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Home » Trial of Major National Security Case Commences in Hong Kong

Trial of Major National Security Case Commences in Hong Kong

06 February 2023, Monday
Around 47 individuals are facing prosecution over violating Hong Kong's contested national security law, in what is considered the largest such instance.
Prominent democracy advocates Joshua Wong and Benny Tai are among those on trial for allegedly carrying out a non-official primary election. Almost all have been held in detention for two years due to national security reasons.
Detractors claim that the security law is utilised to suppress political opposition whereas Chinese and Hong Kong's officials claim that it is necessary to check unrest.

Supporters of the Hong Kong activists who are on trial for their involvement in an unofficial primary election were seen in long queues outside the West Kowloon Magistrates' Court on Monday. A small group of demonstrators had also gathered, carrying banners with slogans like "Crackdown is shameless" and "Immediately release all political prisoners."

The prosecution alleges that the primary election - organized to nominate candidates for a legislative election - was part of an “evil plan” to overthrow the government.

They had a "massive and well-organised plan" with the purpose of acquiring a legislative majority and impeding the government from passing laws, ultimately intending to overthrow the Beijing-appointed chief executive.

The group, which has been indicted with conspiracy to commit subversion, has professed that they were just engaging in regular opposition politics.

A total of 47 individuals are currently on trial in Hong Kong, gaining the moniker 'The 47' by local media. Among those on trial are Mr Wong (age 26) who has been incarcerated three times for his involvement in protests, Mr Tai (age 58), a former professor at the University of Hong Kong, Gwyneth Ho (age 26), a former journalist who reported on the 2019 Yuen Long attack on protesters, as well as Claudia Mo (age 66), an elected representative who held office for eight years.

A total of 31 people, including Mr Wong and Mr Tai, have entered guilty pleas and are set to be sentenced upon completion of the trial. The primary election was conducted in July 2020, shortly after the national security law was imposed, and attracted an estimated 600,000 voters.

The Chinese government soon declared the primary illegal, leading to the postponement of the September Legislative Council elections. Citing the pandemic as the reason, a revamp of the electoral rules was conducted, allowing only those loyal to China - patriots - to run for office. The vote was then held, drawing Hong Kong's lowest ever voter turnout.

The trial will be carried out without a jury and will be overseen by three appointed judges. It is expected to last for a duration of 90 days.
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