Hong Kong independence activist jailed for explosives lab, World News
A former member of a now missing Hong Kong independence group was jailed on Friday for possession of explosives during pro-democracy protests that swept through the financial center nearly two years ago.
Louis Lo, 29, pleaded guilty to storing TATP, a high explosive that was discovered during a police raid on an industrial building in July 2019. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
At the time of the raid, Hong Kong was rocked by huge and often violent protests calling for greater democracy and greater police accountability.
China has rejected the protests and responded with a broad crackdown on dissent in the troubled city.
Lo was a member of the Hong Kong National Front, a small fringe group that advocated independence and has since disbanded.
At the time, police said they discovered a homemade explosives lab during the raid where Lo was arrested, alongside about a kilogram of TATP.
TATP requires skills to manufacture, but has been used in a number of major terrorist attacks, including bombings in London in 2005 and on hotels and churches in Sri Lanka in 2019.
Books and pamphlets advocating independence were also found in Lo’s possession.
In sentencing, Judge Andrew Chan described Lo as the “mastermind” of the explosives lab.
“This tribunal does not know what the TATP was to be used for, but again I know it has the capacity to inflict very serious damage to the life and property of the general public,” Chan said.
“This court would be failing in its duty to the public if it does not impose a very heavy and dissuasive sentence,” he added.
During the 2019 protests, huge crowds of hundreds of thousands marched for democracy.
Violent clashes between protesters and riot police escalated over the months.
Towards the later stages, police said they found a handful of explosive devices.
Also read: ‘The Wuhan virus’ and the struggles of being a pro-China lawmaker in Hong Kong
While independence has never been a marginal political vision in Hong Kong since the city’s transfer to China in 1997, popular protest slogans such as “Free Hong Kong, the revolution of our time” have been considered. by Beijing as an unacceptable challenge.
Last year, China imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong banning anything deemed to be subversion, secession, collusion, and terrorism.
The general wording and application of the law stifled dissent, and large numbers of opposition figures were arrested or fled.
Almost all of those charged under the law to date are being prosecuted for holding political views now deemed illegal.