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Hong Kong man sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison for alleged plot to blow up court buildings

HONG KONG– A Hong Kong man was sentenced to nearly six years in prison on Thursday for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot by high school students to bomb court buildings following anti-government protests in 2019. Three others charged under the age of 21 years were sentenced to rehabilitation, while the sentencing of two others was postponed.

Prosecutors said Alexander Au, 21, and the five others planned to make explosives and target court buildings. They said the plot was foiled through a police investigation, no bombs were made and there were no casualties.

Although the six are not among the most prominent activists of Hong Kong’s suppressed democracy movement, their case has drawn attention as they were all students when the prosecution began in 2021 and they have been charged with conspiracy. to carry out terrorist activities under the national security law.

Earlier this month, Au and four defendants between the ages of 17 and 20 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life and property, an alternative to the terrorism charge which falls under a separate law. The last defendant, Ho Yu-wang, 19, pleaded guilty to the charge of terrorism.

Ho has been described as one of the plot masterminds. Judge Alex Lee said during Thursday’s sentencing that the plot would have worsened the social situation in Hong Kong if it had come to fruition and could have resulted in casualties.

Lee sentenced Au to five years and eight months, saying he was more guilty since he was involved in renting a room at a guesthouse to make explosives and inspect targeted buildings with Ho.

The three defendants who were under 21 and had relatively minor roles will be sent to rehabilitation-focused training centers, Lee said. They could be detained for up to three years, but the length of their stay will depend on the authorities’ assessment of their conduct.

The sentencing hearing for Ho and the other defendant has been postponed until September.

As Lee delivered the penalties, two of the defendants shook their heads slightly.

Police said they raided the guesthouse in 2021 and seized equipment believed to be used to make explosives. They also alleged that Ho wrote notes saying his goal was to destabilize Hong Kong, promote conflict between the central government and others, and build a resistance group.

The national security law that Beijing imposed on the city after the protests criminalizes acts of succession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. This led to the arrest of many prominent activists, including activist publisher Jimmy Lai and former student leader Joshua Wong.

ABC News

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