Hong Kong, May 26 (ANI): A Hong Kong court on Tuesday jailed democracy activist Benny Tai, also a former law professor, for 10 months on charges of the illegal promotion of a strategic voting scheme for the 2016 Legislative Council (LegCo) elections.
Tai was handed a 10-month sentence by the court after he pleaded guilty to incurring 253,000 Hong Kong dollars in election expenses by placing six newspaper advertisements as means of promoting the scheme, reported Radio Free Asia. The advertisements aimed to win a majority of votes for pro-democracy parties in LegCo.
Anthony Kwok, the District Court judge, said that due to Tai's guilty plea his sentence has been reduced by five months. In addition, delays in prosecuting the case have further reduced the sentence to two months.
According to Kwok, the "fairness" of the election has been tampered with owing to the strategic voting scheme. Besides Tai, 26 other activists and former pro-democracy lawmakers are also awaiting trial under the national security law for subversion for their role in an unofficial democratic primary held in the run-up to the main poll, Radio Free Asia reported.
Meanwhile, when the sentence was read out, onlookers from the public gallery shouted out, "Hang in there!" and "Jesus loves you!"
Tai's sentencing arrived as the retired Catholic bishop and Cardinal Joseph Zen along with five other co-defendants pleaded not guilty to 'collusion with foreign forces in connection with their trusteeship of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. The fund provided legal, financial, and psychological help to those who are arrested, attacked or injured.
Co-defendants of Zen, like jailed former lawmaker Cyd Ho, also pleaded not guilty to the same charge. The trial has been scheduled for September 19. However, barring Cyd Ho, all defendants were released on bail after the national security police confiscated their passports, reported Radio Free Asia.
Further, the Law Society confirmed that it would investigate the defence team for alleged "professional misconduct." (ANI)