On Friday, media tycoon Jimmy Lai and two other pro-democracy activists received sentences for unauthorized assembly relating to 2019 protests in Hong Kong. Lai was found guilty in two separate trials for unauthorized assembly. He will serve 14 months in prison for his involvement in the pro-democracy protests.
On April 1, 2021, a Hong Kong district court found Lai and several other activists guilty of unauthorized assembly because of their involvement in peaceful demonstrations in August 2019. Lai, who is 73 years old, had no prior convictions. Judge Amanda Woodcock explained that Lai’s age and health contributed to the final determination for the length of his sentence.
Although the protests were peaceful, Woodcock asserted that “when a large number of demonstrators gather, emotions are likely to run high, which means those situations have an inherent risk of breaking out into violence.” In stating her reasons for the sentencing, Woodcock wrote, “[i]t is a serious factor that despite that risk and knowing the Commissioner of Police had banned all meetings and processions . . . that day and why, the defendants went to join with others . . . to participate in a procession and ignore the ban and reasons for it.”
Lai faces additional charges, including a charge for violating a new Hong Kong national security law.