Hong Kong teenager returned by China appears in city court on charges related to protests By Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) – One of the Hong Kong people detained in China last year for illegally crossing the border appeared in one of the city’s courts on Wednesday to hear charges of arson and possession of offensive weapons related to the 2019 anti-government protests. 17-year-old Hoang Lam Phuc, whom dozens gathered outside the court to show their support, was part of a group of 12 captured at sea in August 2020 by Chinese authorities as they tried to flee from Hong Kong on a speedboat believed to be heading to Taiwan. . Hoang and another minor were returned by China to Hong Kong on December 30, while the other 10 were sentenced by a court in the neighboring mainland city of Shenzhen to between seven months and three years in prison for illegally crossing the border. His virtual incommunicado detention has drawn condemnation from Western and human rights groups at a time of growing fears about the city’s high degree of autonomy. Authorities have denied family members and lawyers access to the 12, insisting that they be represented by officially appointed lawyers. China has said that its “legitimate rights” have been protected and its case was handled in accordance with the law. All 12 had faced charges in Hong Kong linked to a protest movement against the government, including riots and violation of a contentious national security law that China imposed in June 2020. Hong Kong returned to Chinese government in 1997 with the guarantee of freedoms. unseen on the continent, including freedom of expression and assembly. Democracy activists complain that the rulers of the Communist Party in Beijing are curtailing those freedoms, a charge China rejects. Hoang, who did not request bail, is in pre-trial detention and his case will resume on February 26. Prosecutors are investigating the possibility of filing more charges, including the escape and conspiracy to aid the criminals.

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