Dubbed “The Hong Kong 12”, the group made a break for Taiwan in August 2020 to escape serious charges — including attempted arson and making explosives — related to the huge and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests that convulsed the city the year before.
However, they were soon picked up by the Chinese coast guard and disappeared into the mainland’s opaque judicial system, with 10 of them eventually being convicted behind closed doors for crossing China’s maritime border illegally.
Tang Kai-yin, whose three-year jail sentence was the heaviest owing to his role as an “organiser”, was the last one to return to Hong Kong on Tuesday.
An officer at a police station in the Hong Kong border district of Tin Shui Wai confirmed to an AFP reporter there that Tang had arrived in a seven-seat vehicle.
Tang is expected to appear in a Hong Kong court on Wednesday for continued prosecution in his original arson case and to receive an additional charge for absconding.
Of the 11 others in the group who have since been returned to Hong Kong, seven have been jailed for various protest-related charges, as well as the additional charge of perverting the course of public justice.
Another one of the speedboat fugitives, Andy Li Yu-hin, was charged with collusion under the sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong to quell dissent after the protests.
Li’s case is allegedly linked to jailed pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai, who is set to stand trial in December.
The remaining three — Cheung Chun-fu, Cheung Ming-yu, and Yim Man-him — are defendants in Hong Kong’s first case under its anti-terrorism law.