Hong Kong: first trial for national security threats opens
The 24-year-old Tong Ying-kit is accused of inciting secession and terrorism. Arrested for waving a pro-independence flag. Proceedings without jury: a blow to the liberal tradition of the city. Another reporter from the pro-democracy Apple Daily stopped.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The first trial for alleged crimes covered by the national security law imposed on the city by Beijing opened today. 24-year-old Tong Ying-kit is the first citizen arrested under the draconian measure, approved on June 30, 2020. He is accused of inciting the population to subversion and terrorism: on July 1 a year ago, the police arrested him while he was waving an independence flag aboard a motorcycle; he is also accused of having invested knocked down some agents with the vehicle.
Three judges chosen for national security cases preside over the court. As ordered by the city secretary of justice, the suspect is being tried without a jury. Teresa Cheng justified the decision - accepted by the High Court - with the need to protect the personal safety of the jurors and their families.
According to experts and lawyers, the order has dealt another blow to the liberal tradition of the former British colony. To this day, for 176 years, Hong Kong's Common Law system has used juries for the most serious crimes. On the city judicial system website, recourse to a jury is described as one of its "peculiar characteristics".
Meanwhile, police today revealed that they have arrested an Apple Daily reporter. It is most likely a 55-year-old columnist who signs himself with the pseudonym "Li Ping". The accusation against him is that he "conspired" with foreign forces to threaten national security. He is the same indictment used to imprison Jimmy Lai, the billionaire founder of Apple Daily, and five executives of the pro-democracy newspaper. The police have specified that there will be other arrests in the case.
Yesterday, Apple Daily shut down its English-language web service and suspended its financial page. Without the release of its assets, frozen by the police for alleged violations of the national security law, the independent newspaper will most likely close by June 26 due to lack of funds.