Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung unfurled banners at the meeting in 2016 reading ‘Hong Kong is not China’ Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP
A Hong Kong court has found two former pro-independence lawmakers guilty of unlawful assembly for attempting to force their way into a legislative meeting in 2016 the guardian reports.
Yau Wai-Ching, 31 and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung, 26, of the Young spiration party tried to enter a legislative council on 2 November 2016 to take their oaths as legislators, in a chaotic episode that has been a rallying point for Hong Kong’s fledgling pro-democracy movement.
Yau, Leung and three assistants who accompanied them could face up to three years in prison, according to Hong Kong’s public order ordinance. They have been granted bail until 4 June when the court will hand down their sentences.
When trying to enter the legislative meeting in November, the group clashed with security guards. At the time, Yau and Leung had been banned from such meetings and were facing judicial review after staging an anti-China protest at a previous swearing in ceremony in October. Yau and Leung had unfurled banners that said “Hong Kong is not China” and changed the text of their oaths to swear allegiance to “Hong Kong nation.”
Their case has raised concerns over Beijing’s tightening hold over the city, a former British colony that was returned to Chinese control in 1997. Universities have advised students not to participate in pro-independence activities. Other pro-democracy lawmakers have been disqualified.
After their protest in October, Beijing issued an interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, maintaining that oaths must be read out “accurately, completely, and solemnly”. Hong Kong’s high court in mid-November declared Yau and Leung’s oaths invalid, disqualifying them from serving as legislators.
Yau and Leung have said that they were still lawmakers at the time of the 2 November meeting and should have been allowed to enter the legislative council. Acting Kowloon city magistrate Wong Sze-lai said the case was about order and not legislative affairs.
“Even if they are Legislative Council members, [they can’t] use that as an amulet to commit criminal behaviour,” she said, according to local media.
The two have previously said they would appeal the verdict if found guilty. In a Facebook post on Thursday Yau wrote, “Whatever the verdict tomorrow, don’t forget your goals and principles. Everyone’s path is different. Time will one day judge that we are on side of victory.”
With inputs from the guardian.