Hong Kong court grants bail to 15 of 47 pro-democracy activists in landmark national security hearing

Published:Nov 26, 202315:42
Hong Kong court grants bail to 15 of 47 pro-democracy activists in landmark national security hearing

The 15 defendants included ex-lawmakers Kwok Ka-ki, Jeremy Tam and Helena Wong, chief Justice of the Peace Victor So stated. All of the remaining 32 defendants, together with former regulation professor Benny Tai and activist Joshua Wong, have been remanded in custody till the following listening to on Might 31.

The 47 defendants have been charged on Sunday with subversion below the brand new nationwide safety regulation, which Beijing enacted unilaterally final summer season. The case marks a sweeping escalation within the software of the regulation, which Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam had beforehand stated can be restricted in impact and solely goal a small variety of fringe activists.

Nevertheless, prosecutors instantly appealed the bail selections, forcing the Justice of the Peace additionally to remand the 15 defendants in custody till an attraction listening to is made on the Excessive Courtroom inside 48 hours.

In granting bail, chief Justice of the Peace Victor So stated the defendants should not publish any speeches or commit any acts on any platforms that will fairly be deemed as endangering nationwide safety. The 15 defendants are additionally not allowed to participate in any elections, apart from voting.

The defendants should circuitously or not directly contact any international officers or lawmakers, and should give up all journey paperwork and obey a curfew order.

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, one of the 47 pro-democracy activists, is escorted by Correctional Services officers to a prison van in Hong Kong on Thursday.

After the choice was introduced, a few of the defendants chanted "Hong Kong people, we are not dead yet" and "political prisoners are not guilty," and thanked legal professionals for his or her help.

Based on Hong Kong legal guidelines, reporters will not be permitted to reveal particulars of particular person bail submissions. The Justice of the Peace has declined a request to grant an exemption within the listening to.

The prosecution has postponed the following listening to to Might 31, after prosecutors stated police would want extra time to research the defendants' cellular gadgets and monetary data.

The bail selections got here after prosecutors and protection spent 4 full days debating whether or not every of the defendants ought to be granted bail.

A pro-democracy supporter holding an umbrella queues up for the hearing outside the courthouse in Hong Kong on Thursday.

Supporters fill gallery

Since Monday, supporters of the pro-democracy motion -- largely sporting black -- have queued up outdoors the West Kowloon court docket and crammed the general public gallery. As the choice was introduced on Thursday night time, dozens of cops have been seen on standby outdoors the court docket constructing.

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Hong Kong's frequent regulation system historically requires prosecutors to persuade the court docket why a choose shouldn't grant bail. Nevertheless, the nationwide safety regulation stipulates that defendants can't be granted bail except the court docket is satisfied they are going to "not continue to commit acts endangering national security."

Representatives from international missions have been current to observe the proceedings. Joakim Ladeborn, deputy consul of the Swedish embassy in Hong Kong, advised CNN on Tuesday that the EU was involved with how the nationwide safety regulation has been carried out in Hong Kong. "We are following the cases concerning the national security law very closely," he stated.

Authorities selected to conduct all bail hearings concurrently, which turned what is generally a routine authorized continuing right into a collection of grueling, prolonged court docket classes.

No less than six defendants have been hospitalized amid the marathon hearings, the court docket heard.

The 47 pro-democracy politicians are accused of a conspiracy to commit subversion over an election main final July, marking the most important software of the nationwide safety regulation because it was imposed final 12 months. The offense carries a most penalty of life imprisonment.

Prosecutors had requested that the choose deny bail for all 47 defendants and provides the federal government one other three months to research, which at the very least one protection legal professional referred to as a "major injustice."

Some of the 47 pro-democracy activists, including Lam Cheuk-ting, center, are escorted by Correctional Services officers to a prison van on Thursday.

Sweeping laws

Prosecutors argued the defendants, which embody outstanding activist Joshua Wong and regulation professor Benny Tai, have been concerned in a "massive and well-organized scheme to subvert the Hong Kong government" by planning and taking part in an unofficial main election final July. Such contests are a traditional operate in democracies around the globe, throughout which political events choose the strongest candidates for an election.

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Nevertheless, police claimed the scheme fell afoul of the brand new nationwide safety regulation. The regulation criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with international powers, and carries with it a most sentence of life in jail. Instances below the sweeping laws are dealt with by a devoted department of the Hong Kong police and judges assigned to listen to nationwide safety instances.

The legislative elections have been purported to be held in September, however have been ultimately postponed as a result of coronavirus pandemic. Critics accused the federal government of utilizing a public well being emergency to stave off a political catastrophe, because the incumbent pro-Beijing events appeared headed for historic losses.

The trial of the 47 political activists has been met with sturdy opposition in Hong Kong and all through Western democracies like the UK and the US.

A whole lot of protesters risked arrest to show in Hong Kong when proceedings began Monday. The protest was the most important seen within the metropolis for months, with these gathered chanting the banned slogan, "Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our time!" and carrying placards demanding the discharge of these rounded up below the laws.

China says that it was essential to enact the nationwide safety laws after the federal government's try to introduce an unpopular extradition invoice sparked large, typically violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong virtually two years in the past.

Hong Kong's native authorities and authorities in Beijing argue the costs in opposition to the 47 activists are a matter of nationwide safety and have warned international events in opposition to interfering in China's home and judicial affairs.

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