- Lai and the former legislators were accused of turning an approved assembly in Victoria Park into an illegal march
- Defence lawyers argued they were trying to lead participants out of the park to prevent overcrowding
Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying has been convicted of organising and taking part in an unauthorised anti-government protest in 2019, along with six former opposition lawmakers.
Thursday’s ruling followed a four-week trial that centred on an unauthorised procession on August 18, 2019, during the social unrest of that year sparked by the since-withdrawn extradition bill.
Prosecutors accused the seven of turning an approved assembly in Victoria Park into an illegal march to Central under the pretext of crowd control.
Defence lawyers argued the accused were merely leading rally participants out of the park to alleviate overcrowding.
The other defendants were former lawmakers Martin Lee Chu-ming, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho Chun-yan, Cyd Ho Sau-lan and Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee. Two other ex-legislators – Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung – pleaded guilty in February before the trial began.
The District Court hearing before judge Amanda Woodcock – held at West Kowloon Court to accommodate the large amount of interest in the case – is still ongoing.
The result was set to have a bearing on court cases involving five other unapproved assemblies.