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Hong Kong starts trial for 9 accused in 2014 Occupy protests

Occupy Central leaders, from right, Tanya Chan, Chan Kin Man, Benny Tai, Chu Yiu Ming and Lee Wing Tat shout slogans before entering a court in Hong Kong, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Nine leaders of the 2014 Hong Kong pro-democracy movement stand trial. The co-founders of the "Occupy Central" campaign - legal Prof. Benny Tai Yiu-Ting, sociology professor Chan Kin-man and retired pastor Chu Yiu-ming - are facing charges related to the planning and implementation of the campaign which became part of the large-scale pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests which were carried out 79 days between September and December 2014. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG — Three leaders of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests and six others are being tried for their involvement in the “Occupy Central” movement that paralyzed the city’s financial district for more than two months.

The trial for the nine defendants opened Monday. They include two professors and a pastor who spearheaded the campaign to press for free elections of Hong Kong’s top leader.

Protesters laid siege to government headquarters for 79 days but failed to win any concessions.

Three university students prosecuted in 2016 for their leadership role in the protests received community service.

Judges are under pressure from Beijing to hand down harsher sentences to deter future protests. Some fear that central government meddling will erode judiciary independence and the city’s standing as a business capital.

The Associated Press