Benny Tai Yiu-ting (file photo)

Subversion case of 47 Hong Kong democracy activists to return to court on Nov 29

A national security case involving 47 high-profile Hong Kong democracy figures has been adjourned until Nov 29, when it may be moved to the High Court.

Magistrate Peter Law on Thursday also rejected the bail application of one of the defendants, activist and former journalist Gwyneth Ho. Ho and her co-accused are charged with conspiracy to commit subversion over their roles in an informal primary held by the democracy camp in July last year.

Only 14 out of the 47 people charged have been granted bail so far, with the rest being remanded in custody since early March.

The case is still in the pre-trial stage and has not yet been formally committed to the High Court, which would have the authority to issue longer sentences. Those found guilty of subversion under the national security law could be jailed for life.

At the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday, Law rejected both Ho’s bail attempt and her request to lift legal restrictions on media coverage of bail proceedings. Under Hong Kong law, the media can publish only basic information about such hearings, such as the defendant’s name, the court’s decision, and bail conditions.

“Even if you don’t lift [the restrictions], the discussion won’t go away,” Ho shouted after the hearing ended, referring to the societal debate about arrests and prosecutions under the national security law.

The day saw all 47 show up in court once again, after their previous appearances in May and July that ended with the magistrate granting further delays to the case.

Many of the defendants waved to their family members and supporters in the public gallery. As they were led into the courtroom, some also made light-hearted comments or sang a line or two from a pop song.

Prince Wong and Tiffany Yuen received a chorus of well-wishes after telling their co-defendants that their birthdays were coming up.

Law announced that the case would resume at 2 pm on Nov 29.

Those who are out on bail had their release arrangements extended with the conditions unchanged. The 14 are Raymond Chan, Owen Chow, Winnie Yu, Clarisse Yeung, Mike Lam, Hendrick Lui, Lawrence Lau, Helena Wong, Cheng Tat-hung, Ricky Or, Michael Pang, Kalvin Ho, Sze Tak-loy, and Lee Yue-shun.

By Holmes Chan