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Hong Kong's pro-independence lawmakers lose court appeal over disqualification

A Hong Kong court has described the lawmakers' actions as deliberate and intentional. The pro-independence lawmakers inserted anti-China remarks during their oath-taking ceremony in parliament.

Two pro-independence lawmakers in Hong Kong on Wednesday lost their appeal against a ruling that disqualifies them from taking their seats in parliament.

During their swearing-in ceremony in October, 30-year-old Sixtus Leung and 25-year-old Tau Wai-ching altered their oaths to reflect anti-China sentiments while displaying a flag with the text: "Hong Kong is not China."

Hong Kong's Court of Appeal sided with an earlier ruling by the High Court that the duo had effectively declined to take the oath, violating the city's Basic Law covering oaths taken by officials.

"There can be no innocent explanation for what they uttered and did," Wednesday's ruling said. "What has been done was done deliberately and intentionally."

Earlier this month, China's parliament said the lawmakers "posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security," passing a ruling that barred them from taking office through a controversial interpretation of Hong Kong law.

In the semi-autonomous city, lawmakers must take an oath of allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China.

Yau and Leung are expected to take their case to the Court of Final Appeal.

Meanwhile, the justice department said it would launch proceedings against pro-democracy lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, who read her oath at an extremely slow pace, pausing at length between words. However, the department did not provide details on its potential action.

Lau rose to prominence as an activist during the pro-democracy rallies in 2014 known as the "Umbrella Movement."

Watch video 00:36

China bars Hong Kong lawmakers

ls/kl (AP, AFP)

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