> More than 100 protesters gathered outside a Hong Kong court on Monday, as the so-called Umbrella Movement went back on trial. That was one of the biggest political challenges to Beijing in decades, and brought Hong Kong to a standstill for nearly three months, calling for fairer elections in the Chinese-ruled city.
Three of its leaders are now facing three charges of public nuisance, each carrying up to seven years in jail. Chu Yiu-ming, Benny Tai, and Chan Kin-man, all pleading not guilty to charges of public nuisance. A total of nine protesters are facing charges, in a case that could have repercussions for hundreds of other protesters.
Reuters James Pomfret has been reporting from the court.>> This is really a landmark case for Hong Kong. There's a lot of feeling amongst critics that this really is a political persecution pushed by a Hong Kong government that's trying to squeeze and curtail the momentum of the pro-democracy movement going forward.
>> The former British colony was returned to China in the 90s, under a one country, two systems formula. That guaranteed the territory a higher degree of freedoms denied to mainland Chinese citizens. However, last year, Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, warned that attempts to undermine China's sovereignty were a red line that won't be tolerated.
>> The government and the Department of Justice, they've stressed very strongly that there is no political consideration at all in this trial. But over the past year, we've seen a number of incidents that have triggered international alarm. That they do see the hand of China extending into Hong Kong and squeezing it more and more tightly, even more than we've seen over the past couple of years.
So the political and the broader sort of context is quite grim.>> This trial is set to run into December, but a final verdict could take years.