Hong Kong, December 31 (ANI): A Chinese court sentenced 10 Hong Kong activists between seven to three years in prison for illegal border crossing on Wednesday, despite international outcry and calls to free the detained Hong Kongers.
The court was hearing the case of 12 Hong Kongers who tried to flee to Taiwan in August but were intercepted by the Chinese coast guard, Al Jazeera reported.
The two who organised the boat journey were sentenced to three years and two years, respectively, while the others received seven-month sentences, the court in Shenzhen said.
The remaining two-aged 16 and 17- were repatriated to the custody of the Hong Kong police.
The ten, authorities said, were facing charges over last year's pro-democracy protests were put on trial on Monday.
In a statement, their families said the proceedings amounted to a "de facto secret trial" of the group who were detained by the Chinese coastguard.
"The basic rights of the 12 Hongkongers have already been deprived by the Chinese authority," they said. "The unfair court proceedings is evidence of an obvious, draconian political persecution."
On Tuesday, European union slammed Beijing for human rights violations against 10 political activists from Hong Kong who tried to escape to Taiwan, urging authorities to ensure a fair trial and called for an immediate release of the Shenzen 12.
On August 23, the 12 boarded a speedboat at the pier of Po Toi O, a nondescript village in Sai Kung, and headed towards Taiwan.
However, their vessel was intercepted by the Chinese coastguard. They were arrested and have been detained ever since at the Yantian district detention centre in Shenzhen, a mainland city just across the border from Hong Kong.
Following almost three months of detention, Shenzhen police announced in late November that they had completed their investigation into the cases and handed the case over to prosecutors.
The Yantian People's Procuratorate confirmed on December 16 that 10 would face charges, while closed-door hearings would be held to decide how to deal with the other two, who are underage.
Despite information from the court last week that the trial would be held behind closed doors, staff maintained on Monday that it was in fact open to the public - before immediately noting that the gallery was full. As such, a group of diplomats from Britain, the US, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Canada who had come to observe the trial were instead left to wait outside the court entrance. (ANI)