Hong Kong: 10 defendants face trial over attempt to flee country

Katie Ramirez
December 29, 2020

The teen is also facing separate charges of money laundering and conspiring to publish seditious content.

Eight of the group are accused of an illegal border crossing, while two are suspected of organising for others to cross the border.

The incident came two months after Beijing imposed a harsh national security law on Hong Kong in response to last year's massive protests against Communist Party rule.

A high-profile trial of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists adjourned without a verdict on Monday, months after authorities arrested a dozen of them attempting to flee the city by speedboat and detained them in mainland China.

The US Embassy said it had requested permission to observe the hearing, but that the request was denied.

Zhao said China firmly opposed the embassy's remarks, and urged the U.S.to immediately stop using HKSAR issues to meddle in China's domestic affairs.

Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, has condemned China's "secret" trial of a group of Hongkongers accused of trying to flee the city amid a crackdown on dissent. "Communist China will stop at nothing to prevent its people from seeking freedom elsewhere", the embassy said in a statement.

"The Shenzhen 12 have not had access to lawyers of their choosing, raising further serious questions about access to legal counsel in Mainland China".

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The charges of illegal border crossing and organising an illicit border crossing carry a sentence of up to seven years in jail, mainland authorities said.

"We expect China to uphold the rule of law and conduct trials in a fair and transparent manner, consistent with the basic requirements of global human rights law".

The activists were stopped when their boat entered Chinese waters on the way to Taiwan.

A Hong Kong teenager was on Tuesday (Dec 29) ordered to spend four months in prison for insulting China's national flag and unlawful assembly. Others have sought refuge in the United Kingdom, for which they have faced asset seizures and arrest warrants.

"China must guarantee that all 10 people ... as well as the two others detained with them, get fair and public hearings", Amnesty International said in a statement.

In a joint letter over the weekend, the families said they "strongly condemn" the authorities' decision to hold the trial in "de facto secret".

A few deputies of the National People's Congress and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from HKSAR and Shenzhen as well as journalists and relatives of the defendants attended the trial, said the embassy. One of the 12 is a Portuguese national.

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