- Male faces attainable everyday living imprisonment for secession, terrorism
- Landmark demo wraps up in Substantial Court, verdict on July 27
- Critics say authorized battle has upended typical law traditions
HONG KONG, July 20 (Reuters) – The trial of the first man or woman charged under Hong Kong’s nationwide protection regulation wrapped up on Tuesday, with the prosecution trying to get to designate a slogan well-liked throughout 2019 protests as subversive in a critical exam of the city’s rule of regulation.
Previous waiter Tong Ying-kit, 24, has pleaded not responsible to fees of terrorism, inciting secession and dangerous driving creating grievous bodily hurt on July 1 final 12 months, soon soon after the law was enacted.
As the very first national security situation conducted in open court, Tong’s scenario could established precedents on the managing of stability regulation scenarios for the additional than 120 other persons charged less than it, including notable democrats and activists.
The verdict will be delivered on July 27 by a panel of a few judges Esther Toh, Anthea Pang and Wilson Chan – who were picked by Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader to hear nationwide security situations.
Tong faces up to everyday living in prison, as established out in the national safety law. Somebody convicted of a “grave” national safety offence could be jailed for at the very least 10 yrs, the legislation claims.
Tong was denied bail and a jury, components that stoked issue between some Western governments and legal rights teams as a sizeable departure from century-outdated popular regulation traditions.
The courtroom had cited the protection of jurors and their loved ones associates in denying demo by jury. Defence legal professionals argued that the proper to a jury was a “hallowed basic principle” of the popular regulation technique.
On July 1 past calendar year, a working day soon after the law arrived into effect, Tong rode a motorbike with the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times” fluttering on a flag from the again as he drove into a group of riot police, injuring 3 of them.
He was arrested and billed with “incitement to secession” as nicely as terrorism and unsafe driving.
Tong has pleaded not responsible to all charges.
The interpretation of the protest slogan, which was spray-painted on walls and chanted frequently in the course of anti-governing administration demonstrations that roiled the Chinese-ruled city in 2019, has been at the coronary heart of the trial.
In his closing submission, federal government prosecutor Anthony Chau argued that Tong experienced displayed the flag to incite many others to commit secession, such as protesters gathered nearby, some of whom clapped as Tong rode past.
He also said that Tong experienced used his bike as a “lethal weapon” and the slogan on his flag showed he was “pursuing a political agenda”.
The governing administration has very long held that the slogan implies a call for independence, which would violate the safety regulation, though no authorized ruling has been made on that interpretation.
Tong’s defence lawyer, Clive Grossman, argued on Tuesday it was a phrase with “various interpretations”, together with the desire for independence and democracy.
A lot of the demo concerned discussion between professors drawing on a vary of subject areas which include historical Chinese historical past, the U.S. civil legal rights movement and Malcolm X, to determine no matter whether the “Liberate Hong Kong” slogan is subversive.
Two qualified witnesses referred to as by the defence to analyse the slogan’s that means, drawing upon sources such as an examination of about two million on the net posts, found “no sizeable connection” involving the slogan and Hong Kong independence, Grossman said.
Prosecutor Chau, nonetheless, challenged, that, stating this “empirical data examination is irrelevant, and not reliable” and could not guide the court docket in knowledge the which means of the slogan.
Tong’s situation has been carefully watched in the town of 7.5 million. Critics say it reveals Hong Kong’s rule of law is less than pressure with the upending of popular law traditions that had been a bedrock of the city’s achievement due to the fact Britain handed it again to China in 1997 underneath a “just one country, two programs” formulation aimed at preserving its freedoms and function as a economical hub.
All those traditions include things like the presumption of bail, the presumption of innocence and the right to a jury, in accordance to submissions by defence attorneys reviewed by Reuters.
The federal government has stated that all prosecutions have been managed independently and according to legislation and that authorized enforcement action has practically nothing to do with the political stance, track record or career of people arrested.
The defence argued that Tong hadn’t undertaken a terrorist act with his bike. A defend allegedly thrown by a policeman as he rode by, Grossman reported, could have been a motive for the “incident or a collision” with the officers.
Reporting By James Pomfret further reporting by Sara Cheng, Sharon Abratique, Alexandra McArdle and Hannah Costello Enhancing by Anne Marie Roantree and Gerry Doyle
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