The first person charged and tried under the controversial national security law in Hong Kong has been found guilty in a landmark ruling that sets the precedent for future cases under the law.
The Hong Kong High Court found Tong Ying-kit, 24, guilty of terrorism for crashing his motorbike into three riot police officers during protests in July last year.
According to local reports, the court found Tong’s failure to stop at police check lines and his eventual crash were a “deliberate challenge mounted against police.”
Tong’s defense lawyer, however, argued that no evidence showed Tong committed the act deliberately and that he tried to avoid crashing into the police.
The court also found Tong guilty of inciting secession for carrying a black flag with the protest slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” on his motorbike at the same incident.
According to Justice Esther Toh, the slogan implied the separation of Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland.
“The defendant carried out those acts with a view to intimidate the public in order to pursue his political agenda,” Toh said, reading the verdict.
According to Tong’s defense lawyer, it was impossible to prove that Tong was inciting secession for simply using the slogan.
The defense further said that his actions could not be considered terrorism because no serious violence or harm had been done to society.
Human rights group Amnesty International immediately condemned the ruling as “a significant and ominous moment for human rights in Hong Kong” and “the beginning of the end for freedom of expression in Hong Kong.”
Pro-democracy Hong Kong activist Nathan Law, who is in asylum in Britain, called the trial, “a political show.”
“The judicial system in Hong Kong is weaponized to suppress,” Law said on Twitter.
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