The preliminary phase in the trial of Hong Kong’s Card Zen completed
The trial is set to resume on 26 October. The Catholic prelate is being tried along with five well-known pro-democracy advocates. For their defence team, some of the prosecution’s evidence is irrelevant. Words of support for Hong Kong’s bishop emeritus come from around the Catholic world.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and five well-known pro-democracy advocates appeared before a West Kowloon Court today, the second and last day of their preliminary hearing.
According to Principal Magistrate Ada Yim Shun-yee, enough evidence was presented to prosecute all six. She adjourned the trial to 26 October.
The prosecution accuses the defendants of incorrectly registering a humanitarian fund, the 612 Fund, of which they were trustees. The defence objects to the prosecution evidence gathered under the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020 to target pro-democracy movements, deeming it irrelevant to the case.
Police arrested Hong Kong’s bishop emeritus and the others on 11 May, on the more serious charge of “collusion” with foreign forces, which falls under the security legislation. Without it, the defendants risk a maximum fine of US$ 1,750.
The co-defendants of the 90-year-old cardinal include prominent lawyer Margaret Ng, singer-activist Denise Ho, former lawmaker Cyd Ho, scholar Hui Po-keung, and activist Sze Ching-wee.
Cyd Ho is already in prison for taking part in an unauthorised protest. Several pro-democracy advocates, including Catholic media mogul Jimmy Lai, are also in prison on the same charge.
Until it closed in October 2021, the 612 Fund helped thousands of pro-democracy protesters involved in the 2019 protests. The defendants pleaded not guilty. According to their legal team, the charity was not required to register under the Societies Ordinance.
The defence wants the ordinance to be interpreted in light of the right of association enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which will speak volumes about the degree of freedom still existing in the former British colony.
In the meantime, following Card Fernando Filoni, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and current Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, more and more prominent Catholics are speaking out in support of the cardinal.
Yesterday, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana (Kazakhstan) expressed their solidarity with Card Zen via Twitter.