Hong Kong man found guilty under security law
The first person to be tried under Hong Kong's national security law was found guilty of secessionism and terrorism on Tuesday.
The Hong Kong High Court handed down the verdict in the case of Tong Ying-kit, 24. He is accused of driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers while carrying a flag bearing the protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" on July 1 last year, a day after the national security law took effect.
The verdict was closely watched for indications of how similar cases will be dealt with in the future. More than 100 people have been arrested under the security legislation.
Tong pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting secession and terrorism, and an alternative charge of dangerous driving. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and his lawyers are expected to argue for a lighter punishment at his sentencing hearing tomorrow.
Reading the verdict, Justice Esther Toh said Tong "committed terrorist activities causing or intended to cause grave harm to the society" in pursuit of a political agenda.
His behavior was an act of violence aimed at coercing the central and Hong Kong governments and intimidating the public, Toh said.
Carrying the slogan-bearing flag constituted an act of incitement to secession, she said, adding that Tong was aware of the slogan's secessionist meaning, and that he intended to communicate this meaning to others.
In a detailed judgment published on the judiciary's website, the judges also said Tong's motorcycle was potentially a lethal weapon.
"The defendant's failure to stop at all the police checklines, eventually crashing into the police, was a deliberate challenge mounted against the police, a symbol of Hong Kong's law and order," the judges said.
The trial was held with no jury, under rules allowing the exception from Hong Kong's common law system if state secrets need to be protected, foreign forces are involved or if the personal safety of jurors needs to be protected.