Marathon hearing for 47 pro-democracy defendants charged under Hong Kong’s national security law
Defendants are seeking bail. Yesterday’s hearing lasted well into the night and was suspended when four defendants had to be hospitalised for exhaustion. For the prosecution, democracy is a crime. Pro-democracy advocates slam the trial for violating human rights. EU sees the procedure as the end of political pluralism.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The bail hearing of 47 pro-democracy activists charged with “subversion“ resumed today. Yesterday’s marathon session lasted until nearly 3 am today, when it was halted as four of the defendants were hospitalised for exhaustion.
The ongoing legal action is the largest of its kind over alleged violations of Hong Kong’s national security law.
Several observers note that for the prosecution democracy in the former British colony is now a crime. In fact, the defendants are charged with organising and taking part in a primary vote in July 2020 meant to select pro-democracy candidates for Hong Kong’s parliamentary elections, then scheduled for September 2020 (later postponed).
The activists on trial belong to a group of 53 people arrested in January for violating the national security law.
For Carrie Lam's pro-Beijing administration, running for office in order to win a majority in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) threatens local and mainland interests if pro-democracy advocates do it.
After yesterday's protests, a hundred people came out in support of those arrested. A group of Western diplomats were also present; for lack of space, only the British managed to get into the courtroom.
The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have called for the release of the 47 defendants.
“The nature of these charges makes clear that legitimate political pluralism will no longer be tolerated in Hong Kong,” the European Union’s office in Hong Kong said.
For its part, the Prosecutions Division said it needed time for further investigation to check the defendants’ emails, social media activities, banking, etc., and that the application for bail should be denied.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong, who represents four defendants, noted that the restrictive interpretation of the right to bail on national security grounds violates citizens' human rights.
The same occurred during the bail hearing of Jimmy Lai. The pro-democracy tycoon has been in prison since December on subversion charges and faces life imprisonment.