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Hong Kong’s Cardinal Zen found guilty over Guardian Relief Fund | court news

The senior Catholic, 90, was one of six activists, including singer Denise Ho, fined for failing to register the fund.

Cardinal Joseph Zen and five other Hong Kong activists have been found guilty of failing to register a multimillion-dollar support fund set up to help those arrested in 2019 pro-democracy protests obtain legal aid.

A court on Friday fined five of the group 4,000 Hong Kong dollars ($512) each for failing to properly register the fund as a society, while a sixth was fined a smaller amount.

Along with 90-year-old Zen, others convicted include popular singer Dennis Ho and veteran human rights lawyer Margaret Ng.

All had pleaded not guilty, setting up a two-month trial. they are in the middle Thousands arrested in connection with 2019 protestsWhat began with mass marches against a government plan to allow extraditions to mainland China has evolved into sometimes violent protests demanding more democracy in the former British colony.

Under the Societies Ordinance of Hong Kong, a society must apply for registration or exemption from registration within one month of being established.

The defense questioned whether Law 612 also applied to the Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pay for legal and medical costs for those arrested during the 2019 unrest, but magistrate Ada Yim found it did .

Yim said the “sole and unique conclusion” from the trial was that the fund was a “local society” and therefore subject to regulations.

“Considering the social and political events in recent years, if a society has ties with political groups…the society’s operations can affect public order, public peace and national security,” Yim said.

there were six Arrested in May under sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on the region in 2020. The group has so far faced charges under the law, which could carry a sentence of life in prison.

Speaking outside court, Ng said it was the first time someone had been convicted for failing to register a society, adding that it was “extremely important with regard to freedom of association in Hong Kong”.

Even outside the court, Jane told reporters not to emphasize her religious identity too much. “I am a Hong Kong citizen who supported this humanitarian work,” he said. “Hong Kong has not seen any harm to its religious freedom,” he insisted.

The group acted as trustees of the fund. Secretary Tze Ching-wei was also charged and fined 2,500 Hong Kong dollars ($320).

The fund disbanded last October after the National Security Police demanded it hand over operational details, including information on its donors and beneficiaries.

Prosecutors revealed during the trial that the fund had raised 270 million Hong Kong dollars ($34.6m) in more than 100,000 separate donations.

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