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Hong Kong Court docket Convicts Cardinal Zen And 5 Others : World


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HONG KONG (AP) — A 90-year-old Roman Catholic cardinal and 5 others in Hong Kong have been fined after being discovered responsible Friday of failing to register a now-defunct fund that aimed to assist folks arrested within the widespread protests three years in the past.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, a retired bishop and a vocal democracy advocate of town, arrived at courtroom in a black outfit and used a strolling stick. He was first arrested in Could on suspicion of colluding with overseas forces below a Beijing-imposed Nationwide Safety Legislation. His arrest despatched shockwaves by means of the Catholic group, though the Vatican solely said it was monitoring the event of the state of affairs carefully.

Whereas Zen and different activists on the trial haven’t but been charged with nationwide security-related expenses, they have been charged with failing to correctly register the 612 Humanitarian Reduction Fund, which helped pay medical and authorized charges for arrested protesters starting in 2019. It ceased operations in October 2021.

Zen, alongside singer Denise Ho, scholar Hui Po Keung, former pro-democracy lawmakers Margaret Ng and Cyd Ho, have been trustees of the fund. They have been every fined 4,000 Hong Kong {dollars} ($512). A sixth defendant, Sze Ching-wee, was the fund’s secretary and was fined HK$2500 ($320).

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The Societies Ordinance requires native organizations to register or apply for an exemption inside a month of their institution. Those that failed to take action face a nice of as much as HK$10,000 ($1,273), with no jail time, upon first conviction.

Handing down the decision, Principal Justice of the Peace Ada Yim dominated that the fund is taken into account a corporation that’s obliged to register because it was not purely for charity functions.

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The judgement holds significance as the primary time that residents needed to face a cost below the ordinance for failing to register, Ng advised reporters after the listening to.

“The impact to different folks, to the numerous, many voters who’re related collectively to do one factor or one other, and what is going to occur to them, is essential,” the veteran lawyer mentioned. “It’s also extraordinarily necessary in regards to the freedom of affiliation in Hong Kong below Societies Ordinance.”

However Zen mentioned his case shouldn’t be linked with town’s non secular freedoms. “I have not seen any erosion of spiritual freedoms in Hong Kong,” he mentioned.

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The 2019 protests have been sparked by a since-withdrawn invoice that will have allowed felony suspects to be extradited to mainland China. Critics frightened the suspects would disappear into China’s opaque and incessantly abusive authorized system. Opposition morphed into months of violent unrest within the metropolis.

The Nationwide Safety Legislation has crippled Hong Kong’s pro-democracy motion since its enactment in 2020, with many activists being arrested or jailed within the semi-autonomous Chinese language metropolis. Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China’s rule in 1997.

The influence of the legislation has additionally broken religion in the way forward for the worldwide monetary hub, with a rising variety of younger professionals responding to the shrinking freedoms by emigrating abroad.


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