Jimmy Lai, prominent lawyer Chow Hang-tung and journalist Gwyneth Ho were among 24 activists charged over their participation in a banned Tiananmen candlelight vigil last year.

Lai, Chow and Ho are among dozens of activists already behind bars facing separate prosecutions under a national security law.
Lai, Chow and Ho are among dozens of activists already behind bars facing separate prosecutions under a national security law. (Reuters)

Jailed Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai has been convicted along with two other campaigners for taking part in a banned Tiananmen vigil as the prosecution of multiple activists came to a conclusion.

Lai, the 74-year-old owner of the now-shuttered anti-Beijing Apple Daily newspaper, was found guilty of unlawful assembly charges on Thursday alongside former journalist Gwyneth Ho and prominent rights lawyer Chow Hang-tung.

Authorities had charged more than two dozen politicians and activists over a vigil last year, which commemorated the victims of Beijing's deadly Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, which left thousands of people dead.

The trio were the only ones to contest their charges in court, meaning they were the last to receive their verdict. They argued they went to light candles in a personal capacity and had not "incited" others to join an outlawed rally.

But District Court judge Amanda Woodcock dismissed those arguments as "frankly nonsensical" and convicted them of charges including inciting and taking part in an unauthorised assembly.

Ban on Tiananmen commemorations

Lai, Chow and Ho are among dozens of activists already behind bars facing separate prosecutions under a national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year, which criminalises any act seen as undermining the authority of the central government.

For three decades, Hong Kong's annual June 4 candlelight vigil would attract tens of thousands of people, which, with its slogans for democracy and ending one-party rule in China, became a symbol for the political freedoms enjoyed in the city.

But Beijing made it clear it will no longer tolerate Tiananmen commemorations in Hong Kong or Macau, the only two places within China where public remembrance could take place.

Previously, 16 politicians and activists, including prominent campaigner Joshua Wong, were sentenced to six to 10 months in jail over their roles in the vigil, with a few granted suspended sentences.

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Source: AFP