A court in Hong Kong handed down prison sentences of up to 16 months Wednesday to eight leaders of massive 2014 pro-democracy protests after they were convicted earlier this month of public nuisance offenses. The sentences are seen as an effort by the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory to draw a line under the protests. The charges carried potential sentences of up to seven years. Three were given 16 months, one of them suspended for two years, two were given eight-month sentences, and two given suspended eight-month sentences, while another was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, the AP reports. One other defendant, Tanya Chan, had her sentencing Wednesday postponed because of the need to undergo surgery.
It was not immediately clear if they planned to appeal. "I am still peaceful and hopeful to face whatever may happen today," law professor Benny Tai, who helped originate the protests, told reporters. Chan said she hadn't lost faith in what the movement stood for. "Although it's an uphill battle, it's not easy, it's time for us to make sure that we are strong enough to face different kind of challenges," Chan said. The nine were leaders of the "Occupy Central" campaign, which was organized as a nonviolent sit-in that became known as the "Umbrella Movement" after a symbol of defiance against police adopted by the street protests. Ranging in age from their 30s to 70s, the nine defendants span generations of Hong Kong citizens who have been agitating for full democracy.
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