Hong Kong cardinal among activists convicted about protest fund

HONG KONG, Nov 25 — A 90-yr-aged Hong Kong cardinal was amid 6 dissidents convicted on Friday over their operating of a multi-million-greenback defence fund for arrested anti-government protesters.5 of the team were being fined HK$4,000 (RM2,290) for the criminal offense of failing to thoroughly register the fund as a society, while a sixth received a scaled-down wonderful.Cardinal Joseph Zen, a person of Asia’s best-position Catholics, is among the the scores of veteran activists struggling with lawful threats as China stamps out protest in the former British colony.The 6 were being arrested below sweeping countrywide protection legislation that Beijing imposed in 2020, a calendar year just after the outbreak of large and typically violent protests.They are but to experience charges underneath that legislation, which can have a sentence of up to everyday living in jail.Amid Zen’s co-convicted on Friday have been activist and singer Denise Ho, and veteran human legal rights barrister Margaret Ng.All experienced pleaded not responsible, setting up a two-month demo.On Friday, justice of the peace Ada Yim found “the only and irresistible inference” was that the fund was a “local society” and so subject matter to the rules.“Considering the social and political situations in new years, if a culture has connections with political teams… the society’s functions could affect general public order, community peace and nationwide stability,” Yim said.Talking outside the courtroom, Ng claimed it was the 1st time any individual experienced been convicted for failing to sign-up a society, incorporating that it was “extremely crucial in relation to the flexibility of association in Hong Kong”.Cardinal Zen’s arrest previously this calendar year, for “colluding with overseas forces”, stunned the city’s Catholic community and renewed criticism of the Vatican’s warming ties with Beijing, which includes from fellow senior clerics.Also outside the courtroom, Zen noted the problem abroad but insisted he was performing in his part as a humanitarian, not a cardinal, including that “Hong Kong has not seen any damage to its spiritual freedom”.Zen’s group acted as trustees and secretary of the now-defunct “612 Humanitarian Aid Fund”, which served shell out authorized and professional medical expenses for individuals arrested all through the 2019 unrest.The fund disbanded very last October immediately after nationwide security police demanded it hand over operational details, which includes information and facts about its donors and beneficiaries.Prosecutors unveiled in court that the fund had raised as much as HK$270 million from more than 100,000 separate donations.They mentioned “part of the fund was applied for political activities and non-charity events”, together with donations to protest teams and activists overseas.The defence argued that the fund was “merely a name supplied to a sum of money” and the defendants did not sort any modern society. It also challenged the law’s vagueness, declaring it imposed disproportionate constraints on the independence of association.“The criminalisation for failure to sign-up is unquestionably a suppress on these important freedoms for civil culture,” defence counsel Gladys Li said. — AFP

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