Archive for ‘guilty’


Hong Kong ‘Umbrella’ protesters found guilty of public nuisance

Media caption The “Umbrella Movement” activists said they would continue to strive for democracy

Nine pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have been found guilty of public nuisance charges for their role in a civil disobedience movement that called for free elections in the city.

Among them are three prominent activists, seen as figureheads of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

They could be jailed for up to seven years for their part in the “Umbrella Movement” protests of 2014.

Thousands marched demanding the right for Hong Kong to choose its own leader.

Those convicted include the so-called “Occupy trio” – sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 60, law professor Benny Tai, 54, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 75.

They are seen as the founders of the movement that galvanised protesters in their campaign of civil disobedience.

“No matter what happens today… we will persist on and do not give up,” Mr Tai told reporters ahead of the verdict.

Mr Tai, Mr Chan and five others were found guilty of two charges of public nuisance, and Mr Chu and one other of just one charge.

A large crowd gathered outside the court on Thursday to support them. It is not yet clear when they will be sentenced.

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Chu Yiu-ming, Benny Tai, Chan Kin-manImage copyrightAFP
Chu Yiu-ming, Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man (left to right) were charged under colonial-era laws that carry possible jail terms of up to seven years

Like just another day

By Martin Yip, BBC News Chinese, Hong Kong

The nine defendants walked into the court building looking refreshed and in high spirits. All but one said a few words in what might have been their last hours of freedom before their predicted jail term.

Delivering his verdict, Justice Johnny Chan said the defendants had caused a nuisance – by occupying major roads – leading to injuries among civilians. The nine looked calm and not particularly emotional. They were later released on bail. Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming smiled as they passed me, as if it was just another day.

They are yet to say if they will appeal. The court was adjourned for the day as the lawyers are yet to finish their mitigation submissions. The sentences have yet to be announced.

The broader pro-democracy camp already has bad relations with Beijing. Activists and politicians did express their anger but political analysts also warn that people might simply leave the movement out of frustration.

“Some people might feel dispirited and helpless. I hope they can see that other people haven’t given up,” Benny Tai told BBC News Chinese ahead of today’s verdict.

Seventy nine days of sit-in protests have already changed Hong Kong a lot. But today’s verdict might serve more as a reminder that this city remains divided.

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What has the reaction been?

At the trial Judge Johnny Chan rejected the idea that this would have a substantial impact on society.

“It cannot be reasonably argued that a charge of conspiracy to cause public nuisance would generate a chilling effect in society,” he wrote in his ruling.

But rights groups criticised the ruling, with Humans Rights Watch saying the court was “sending a terrible message”.

“[This] will likely embolden the government to prosecute more peaceful activists, further chilling free expression in Hong Kong,” said researcher Maya Wang in a statement to the BBC.

A pro-Democracy activist holds a piece of yellow paper with a slogan in Chinese saying "People"s Hero"Image copyrightEPA
One pro-democracy supporter outside the court held up a sign saying “People’s Hero”

Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, released a statement saying that it was “appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014”.

This verdict comes after a string of frustrations for pro-democracy activists. In the last few years the courts have removed six lawmakers for changing their swearing in oaths to include protest phrases. Others have also been disqualified from running for office.

What were the protests about?

The protests started in reaction to a decision made by China that it would allow direct elections in 2017, but only from a list of candidates pre-approved by Beijing.

Beijing is highly sensitive about Hong Kong’s status and any calls for more autonomy from China.

The former British colony was handed back in 1997 on condition it would retain “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

Many people in Hong Kong believe they should have the right to elect their own leader.

In 2014, the three activists’ calls for non-violent civil disobedience joined with student-led protests and snowballed into the massive demonstrations.

Tens of thousands of people camped in the streets and demanded the right to fully free leadership elections.

Hong Kong protests (Sept 2014)Image copyrightAFP The pro-democracy protests bought an area of central Hong Kong to a standstill for weeks in 2014

The protests became known as the “Umbrella Movement” after people used umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray fired by police to disperse the crowd.

Protesters accused the Chinese government of breaking its promise to allow full democracy in Hong Kong, and of encroaching more and more on the region.

But the number of protesters dwindled to just a few hundred as the weeks dragged on and they ultimately failed to achieve their goal.

Source: The BBC


Chinese student charged for throwing soybean pudding at Filipino officer

Chinese student Zhang Jiale at a train station in ManilaImage copyrightMANDALUYONG POLICE/FACEBOOK
Image captionPhotos of Ms Zhang at a train station in Manila later went viral

A Chinese student who threw her cup of soybean pudding at a police officer in the Philippines has been charged with assault and disobedience.

Zhang Jiale was at a train station in Manila when she was stopped and told she had to finish her dessert before she could enter the station.

She responded by throwing the treat at the officer, and was later detained.

Ms Zhang could face deportation and eventual blacklisting from the Philippines.

‘I was in a bad mood’

The incident took place on 9 February at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) in the Philippines’ capital of Manila.

The 23-year-old is currently a fashion design student in the Philippines.

According to local media outlets, she was stopped by police officer William Cristobal from going onto the MRT station in Manila as she was holding a cup of “taho” – a local dessert of soybean pudding.

Street vendor Fermin Pangan sells a sweet soya snack locally known in the Philippines as 'taho' in Manila September 2, 2008Image copyrightJAY DIRECTO
Image captionTaho is a popular sweet dessert in the Philippines

Bottled drinks, water and liquid substances are banned from MRT stations in Manila.

Mr Cristobal told her she would have to finish her dessert or throw it away before she would be allowed to enter the platform.

She instead threw the taho at him and turned around to leave, but was stopped by security personnel, reports news outlet the Inquirer.

Mr Cristobal had a cup of taho thrown at himImage copyrightMANDALUYONG POLICE/FACEBOOK
Image captionMr Cristobal had a cup of taho thrown at him

Ms Zhang was later charged by the Mandaluyong City prosecutor’s office for direct assault, disobedience to an agent of a person in authority and unjust vexation.

The Mandaluyong City Police told the BBC that they were unable to comment on what punishment Ms Zhang would face if found guilty.

She posted bail but was later detained again by the Bureau of Immigration on a separate charge of violating immigration laws. She now remains in detention in Manila.

Zhang at a police stationImage copyrightMANDALUYONG POLICE/FACEBOOK
Image captionMs Zhang was later brought in by Mandaluyong police

“Zhang has already been charged as an undesirable alien for posing as a risk to public interest,” said BI spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval in a statement.

“The incident showed her disrespect towards persons of authority which in turn shows her disrespect to the country.”

Ms Sandoval said Zhang may face deportation and eventually be blacklisted from the country altogether, adding that the court case would run “independent” from her immigration case.

“If found deportable, we will wait for the resolution of her court case before implementing the deportation.”

Ms Zhang has since apologised for her behaviour.

“I was in a bad mood and I was not able to control my emotions,” she said in an interview with GMA News. “I really admit the mistake I made.

“I’m really, really sorry. I really ask if it’s possible to have another chance… I really like the Philippines…[and] love Filipinos.”

Source: The BBC


Ram Rahim Singh: India guru guilty of journalist’s murder

  • 11 January 2019
Gurmeet Ram Rahim SinghImage copyrightAFP
Image captionGurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for rape

An Indian guru who is already in jail for rape has been convicted for the 2002 murder of a journalist.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, was given a 20-year sentence in 2017 for raping two female followers.

He will be sentenced for the murder on 17 January.

Newspaper editor Ram Chander Chhatrapati was shot dead after exposing abuse at Dera’s headquarters in the north-western city of Sirsa.

Three other men were also convicted of Chhatrapati’s murder – Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal.

Image captionSecurity was stepped up in the wake of his 2017 conviction

The self-styled holy man appeared at the court in Panchkula in Haryana state through a video link from his prison.

During the trial, security was stepped up across the state and in parts of Punjab – where most of Dera’s followers live.

Violence erupted after the sect leader’s rape conviction in August 2017, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people.

Soon afterwards, about 50 other women came forward with their own allegations about sexual abuse in the sect.

‘The complete truth’

Ram Rahim Singh, 51, had long painted himself as a pious spiritual leader, encouraging followers all over the world to take vows of abstinence and celibacy.

But this facade started to slip in 2002, with the publication of a letter in a local newspaper.

The article was written by an anonymous follower of Ram Rahim Singh, and published by Mr Chhatrapati in his Hindi-language newspaper Poora Sach – “The Complete Truth”.

It described instances of sexual abuse at the sect.

Anshul Chhatrapati, the late editor’s son, told The Print that his colleagues warned his father at the time to be careful, because “someone will shoot you one day”.

To this, he reportedly replied: “A real reporter takes the bullet, not a shoe.”

Five days later, on 24 October 2002, Dera Sacha Sauda followers shot Mr Chhatrapati outside his home.

Less than a month later, Mr Chhatrapati died – but the letter published in Poora Sach had already sparked a major investigation into abuse at the sect.

Anshul, who was 21 when his father died, took over the running of the newspaper, and pushed for rape and murder charges to be brought against Ram Rahim Singh.

“My father sacrificed his life for truth,” he said in the 2017 interview. “I could not have let his sacrifice go waste.”

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