Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
AP

Hong Kong court convicts Cardinal Zen, 5 others over fund

  • Updated
  • 0

HONG KONG (AP) — A 90-year-old Roman Catholic cardinal and five others in Hong Kong were fined after being found guilty Friday of failing to register a now-defunct fund that aimed to help people arrested in the widespread protests three years ago.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, a retired bishop and a vocal democracy advocate of the city, arrived at court in a black outfit and used a walking stick. He was first arrested in May on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces under a Beijing-imposed National Security Law. His arrest sent shockwaves through the Catholic community, although the Vatican only stated it was monitoring the development of the situation closely.

While Zen and other activists at the trial have not yet been charged with national security-related charges, they were charged with failing to properly register the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pay medical and legal fees for arrested protesters beginning in 2019. It ceased operations in October 2021.

Zen, alongside singer Denise Ho, scholar Hui Po Keung, former pro-democracy lawmakers Margaret Ng and Cyd Ho, were trustees of the fund. They were each fined 4,000 Hong Kong dollars ($512). A sixth defendant, Sze Ching-wee, was the fund’s secretary and was fined HK$2500 ($320).

The Societies Ordinance requires local organizations to register or apply for an exemption within a month of their establishment. Those who failed to do so face a fine of up to HK$10,000 ($1,273), with no jail time, upon first conviction.

Handing down the verdict, Principal Magistrate Ada Yim ruled that the fund is considered an organization that is obliged to register as it was not purely for charity purposes.

The judgement holds significance as the first time that residents had to face a charge under the ordinance for failing to register, Ng told reporters after the hearing.

“The effect to other people, to the many, many citizens who are associated together to do one thing or another, and what will happen to them, is very important," the veteran lawyer said. “It is also extremely important about the freedom of association in Hong Kong under Societies Ordinance.”

But Zen said his case should not be linked with the city's religious freedoms. “I haven't seen any erosion of religious freedoms in Hong Kong," he said.

The 2019 protests were sparked by a since-withdrawn bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. Critics worried the suspects would disappear into China’s opaque and frequently abusive legal system. Opposition morphed into months of violent unrest in the city.

The National Security Law has crippled Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement since its enactment in 2020, with many activists being arrested or jailed in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China's rule in 1997.

The impact of the law has also damaged faith in the future of the international financial hub, with a growing number of young professionals responding to the shrinking freedoms by emigrating overseas.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

0 Comments
* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

State Sen. Alberta Darling announced Wednesday she will retire after a 32-year career in the Wisconsin Legislature. Darling, a River Hills Republican, will step down Dec. 1. Her departure means Republicans won’t have a supermajority in the chamber at least until a special election is held to fill the seat representing Milwaukee's northern suburbs. Darling has been in the Senate since 1992 after first serving a single term in the Assembly. She spent 22 years on the Legislature's powerful Joint Finance Committee.

The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has attacked South Korea with a string of insults for considering new unilateral sanctions against the North. Kim Yo Jong called South Korea's president and his government “idiots” and “a running wild dog gnawing on a bone given by the U.S.” Her diatribe Thursday came two days after South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it was considering additional sanctions on North Korea over its recent barrage of missile tests. Last month, South Korea imposed its first unilateral sanctions on North Korea in five years. The United Nations Security Council is unlikely to impose new sanctions because China and Russia oppose them.

Nigeria has unveiled newly designed currency notes that the West African nation’s central bank says will help curb inflation and money laundering. At the unveiling of the notes Wednesday, Central Bank of Nigeria Gov. Godwin Emefiele said the new notes of higher denominations of 200, 500 and 1,000 naira also would drive financial inclusion and economic growth. But experts are skeptical about such results in a country that has battled chronic corruption for decades, with government officials known to loot public funds that has caused more hardship for the many struggling with poverty. Nigeria’s currency hasn't been redesigned in 19 years, and the new initiative is the latest by policymakers in their quest for a cashless and more inclusive economy.

A U.N. agency says Dominican authorities have expelled at least 1,800 unaccompanied Haitian migrant children this year, sending them back to their crisis-stricken country. UNICEF issued the report on Tuesday. The Dominican Republic denies the claim, which comes amid a government crackdown on migration in response to a cholera outbreak and gang violence in Haiti. The two countries share a 240-mile border on the island of Hispaniola. The crackdown has provoked harsh criticism by international observers, including the United States, which have accused the country of mass deportations, racist treatment of migrants and detentions of Haitians in facilities with poor conditions.

An Australian minister has likened a mining company blasting ancient rock shelters to the Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha carvings and vowed to improve protections of Indigenous cultural heritage. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said Rio Tinto acted lawfully in 2020 when it destroyed two rock shelters that had been inhabited for 46,000 years. She said Thursday that Australia’s laws would be updated to prevent future destruction of Indigenous sacred sites. The Taliban in 2001 destroyed two 1,500-year-old Buddha statues because the carvings in an Afghan cliff were considered to be idols. Rio Tinto demolished the rock shelters to gain the cheapest possible access to iron ore reserves. Four executives lost their jobs following outrage over the destruction.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has spoken briefly with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in another step toward keeping lines of communication open between the two biggest economies. A White House official says Harris and Xi exchanged remarks Saturday while heading into a closed-door meeting at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok. The official says Harris echoed President Joe Biden's comment to Xi at an earlier meeting between the two leaders that China and the U.S. must keep lines of communication open to “responsibly manage the competition between our countries." On Friday, Harris pitched the U.S. as a reliable economic partner, telling a business conference on APEC's sidelines that the U.S. was there to stay.

The British government is denying a report that it is seeking a “Swiss-style” relationship with the European Union that would remove many of the economic barriers erected by Brexit. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said “I don’t recognize” the Sunday Times report. Switzerland has a close economic relationship with the 27-nation EU in return for accepting the bloc’s rules and paying into its coffers. Despite the denial, the new Conservative government led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is trying to improve ties with the bloc after years of acrimony. Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt has expressed optimism that U.K.-EU trade barriers would be removed in the coming years. It comes as polls suggest a majority of Britons now think Brexit was a mistake.

Republican presidential prospects are courting anxious donors and activists in Las Vegas , as the GOP's early 2024 class warns that former President Donald Trump is “a loser” and the party needs to turn elsewhere. Trump will be one of the few major Republican prospects not in attendance for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, which began Friday. The former president will speak by video conference — but leading rivals including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence are delivering keynote addresses in person. The gathering comes just four days after Trump became the first candidate to formally launch a 2024 campaign.

Powerful explosions from shelling have hit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. The International Atomic Energy Agency said more than a dozen blasts shook the Russian-occupied facility on Sunday, damaging buildings and equipment. Ukraine blamed Russia, saying it was trying to prevent the plant from partially restarting to deliver electricity to millions of Ukrainians who are without heat, power or water in the freezing cold. The Russians blamed Ukrainian forces. Elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said over 400 Russian strikes hit Ukraine's eastern regions on Sunday alone. He also said blackouts were scheduled Sunday night in 15 regions of Ukraine and the city of Kyiv. More blackouts were scheduled for Monday.

Listen now and subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS Feed | Omny Studio

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alert

Breaking News