Hong Kong, June 11 (IANS) A pro-independence Hong Kong activist was sentenced to six years in prison for his involvement in street riots during protests in 2016, authorities said on Monday.
Edward Leung, one of the most prominent figures of Hong Kong’s independence movement, and others were given tough sentences for their role in one of the most intense protests the city had ever witnessed, reports Efe news.
The 27-year-old activist underwent a 54-day trial in which he pleaded guilty to assaulting a police official during the clashes that took place on the night of February 8 and 9, 2016, in the commercial district of Mong Kok.
Leung, former spokesman of the pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, that was formed after the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, was unanimously convicted on May 18 by a nine-member jury for his role in the clashes.
The heaviest sentence was handed to Lo Kin-man, who was given seven years in prison, while Wong Ka-kui was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.
Judge Anthea Pang said political causes were no justification for violence and pointed out that the court would only take into consideration the degree of violence and the extent to which public order had been disrupted.
Prominent activist Joshua Wong tweeted on Monday that Leung’s sentence is “the harshest imposed on an opposition activist since 1997”.
Wong, who is also leader of the Demosisto Party, added that “the verdict implies that one can be charged with ‘rioting’ merely for being present in an incident defined as a ‘riot'”.