Updated Jul 27, 2021 - World

Hong Kong judges return guilty verdict in first security law trial

Tong Ying-kit, who is accused of deliberately driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers on July 1 in Hong Kong

Activist Tong Ying-kit arrives at the West Kowloon court in Hong Kong in 2020. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

Tong Ying-kit, the first person to be charged and tried under Hong Kong's national security law was found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession by three judges Tuesday, per Bloomberg. The 24-year-old had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Why it matters: The law passed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party last year carries the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. In a departure from the Asian financial hub's common law traditions, Tong was denied a jury trial.

  • Instead, security law judges are selected by Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam.

Details: The charges stem from allegations that he drove his motorcycle into police officers while carrying a protest flag stating "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" on July 1 last year — which prosecutors labeled "secessionist," Reuters notes.

  • The incident was alleged to have taken place one day after Beijing imposed the security law on Hong Kong after the former British colony saw months of massive pro-democracy protests.

Go deeper: Beijing's national security law takes a toll in Hong Kong

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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