Marylin Tang's conviction and the daily strains on justice in Hong Kong

Six months in prison also for the sister of the trade unionist arrested in March, wife of Lee Cheuk-yan also in prison. Bail still denied to lawyer Chow Hang-tung, who will not go to trial until the second half of 2024. Meanwhile (as expected) the court moved the calendar back to reject Jimmy Lai's defence objections to the sedition charge.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The world spotlight is  on the Hong Kong courts this week  due to the opening of Jimmy Lai's trial. Today there was a new hearing during which, as widely expected, the court rejected the objection presented by the defense according to which the sedition charge would have been formalized beyond the six-month deadline foreseen by the old colonial law on the order public in Hong Kong which is leveraged by the National Security Law.

With yet another stretch, the panel of three judges specially appointed to try Lai ruled that despite having only been notified on 28 December 2021 - that is, more than six months after the release of the last issue of Apple Daily on 24 June 2021 – the procedure had already started on 14 December 2021, i.e. within the established deadlines. Therefore this accusation against Jimmy Lai also remains standing.

In the shadow of the case of the publisher of Apple Daily - in prison for more than 1000 days - in Hong Kong, however, the repression of the democratic movement imposed by Beijing continues also through a long chain of measures of this nature, now issued on a regular basis almost daily by the courts of the former British colony.

Yesterday - for example - the six-month prison sentence of Marilyn Tang, 63, a well-known figure in the Catholic community of Hong Kong, as well as sister of Elizabeth Tang, trade unionist and wife of Lee Cheuk-yan, one of the historic leaders of pro-democracy movement still in prison.

Marylin was convicted for an act she made in favor of her sister, the international leader of the carers' union, who was arrested on 9 March while she stopped in Hong Kong from London - where she lived - to visit her husband in prison.

In fear of facing this ferocity against her family shown by the Hong Kong police, Marilyn went to her sister's apartment to steal her phone and computer, fearing that they might contain something that could be used against she Elizabeth.

Discovered by the police, she also ended up in prison for obstruction of justice and now she will have to serve six months in prison. This is despite the fact that Marilyn has never had any significant roles in political activity.

Sentencing her during the West Kowloon court hearing, Judge Tsang Hing-tung said her imprisonment was "inevitable" as her case was not "minor". And this despite no evidence emerging that the accused actually opened, manipulated or damaged her sister's mobile phone and laptop, devices on which nothing significant was found. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Tang - after nine months - remains awaiting trial and without being able to leave Hong Kong, having had her passport seized.

Also yesterday, the High Court of Hong Kong once again rejected a request for the release on bail of Chow Hang-tung, the lawyer and pro-democracy activist in prison since 2021 for having participated in the organization of vigils in memory of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

A few days ago AsiaNews published an article-denouncement in which he talks about the hollowing out of the rule of law pursued by Beijing in the former British colony and in mainland China through the courts. Judge Andrew Chan refused release, saying there was insufficient reason to believe that if she were granted freedom she "would not continue to endanger national security".

Incidentally, Judge Chan also said that the trial for "subversion" against Chow Hang-tung and the other defendants (including Lee Cheu-yan himself and Albert Ho) is "currently" expected in the second half of 2024. That is, after more than three years of preventive detention.