HONG KONG, Sept 29 — Former Hong Kong opposition lawmaker Ted Hui was sentenced in absentia on Thursday to three-and-a-half years in jail, after a court found that he misled authorities when fleeing the city.

Hui, a veteran activist, is also facing multiple charges related to Hong Kong’s massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019, as well as holding protests that disrupted city legislature meetings.

Judge Andrew Chan said that Hui tricked police and the court into lifting pre-trial travel restrictions by using false documents about an official visit to Denmark.

Hui “made a mockery of the criminal justice system”, the judge said, adding that the deception was “carefully orchestrated”.

Responding to the sentence, Hui criticised the judge for “abetting tyranny” and said the sentencing would highlight the “insanity and ineptness” of Hong Kong’s authorities.

“Hong Kong’s courts have become the courts of the (Chinese) Communist Party, and political trials and sentencing that target dissent have become a common sight,” Hui wrote on social media.

In December 2020, Hui announced after his Denmark trip that he had gone into exile in light of Beijing’s crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.

The activist has since resettled in Australia and remains a vocal critic of Hong Kong and Beijing authorities.

He is among six exiled activists wanted by Hong Kong authorities after he urged the public to cast blank votes in a legislature election, following Beijing’s overhaul of the electoral system.

Most of Hong Kong’s prominent democracy supporters have been arrested, jailed or fled overseas after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in 2020. — AFP