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Hong Kong court docket denies bail to 32 pro-democracy activists | Politics News

 

Activists accused of organising and collaborating in an unofficial main ballot that authorities stated was a part of a plan to ‘overthrow’ authorities.

A Hong Kong court docket has denied bail to 32 out of 47 pro-democracy activists charged below a Beijing-imposed nationwide safety regulation, ending a four-day marathon court docket listening to.

The group of activists was charged with conspiracy to commit subversion below the regulation and detained on Sunday over their involvement in an unofficial main election final 12 months that authorities stated was a plot to paralyse Hong Kong’s authorities.

The mass costs in opposition to the activists have been essentially the most sweeping motion taken in opposition to the town’s pro-democracy camp for the reason that nationwide safety regulation was carried out final June.

On Thursday night, after hours of authorized arguments from prosecutors and defence, chief Justice of the Peace Victor So ordered 32 members of the group to be returned to custody.

“The court does not find it has sufficient ground to believe that you will not continue to commit acts that endanger national security,” he advised the court docket.

The remaining 15 defendants have been granted bail with strict limitations however the prosecution instantly appealed.

As a consequence they have to additionally return to custody however can be allowed to take their case to the town’s High Court throughout the subsequent 48 hours

With the 32 activists remanded in custody till the following court docket listening to on May 31, it implies that a majority of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy figures will now be in jail or in self-exile overseas amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent within the semi-autonomous Chinese metropolis.

Bail proceedings for the activists started on Monday, usually taking a full day and at instances persevering with into the early hours of the morning.

Ahead of the listening to, relations of the detained activists and opposition politicians, in addition to lots of of their supporters, lined up early outdoors the West Kowloon court docket in a present of solidarity.

Foreign diplomats and rights teams are additionally carefully monitoring the case as considerations mount over the vanishing area for dissent within the former British colony, which has taken a swift authoritarian flip for the reason that imposition of the regulation in June 2020.

The hearings had gone on late into the evening for 3 consecutive days, inflicting a number of defendants to fall ailing and be despatched to hospital.

Onus on defendants

Various the defendants dismissed their authorized representatives and deliberate so as to add extra testimony to their submissions to the court docket. Hong Kong legal guidelines limit media protection of the content material of bail hearings.

In distinction with the territory’s frequent regulation traditions, the brand new safety regulation places the onus on defendants to show they won’t pose a safety risk if launched on bail.

The activists, aged 23-64, are accused of organising and collaborating in an unofficial, non-binding main ballot final July that authorities stated was a part of a “vicious plot” to “overthrow” the federal government.

Supporters line up within the rain outdoors West Kowloon court docket in Hong Kong [File: Anthony Wallace/AFP]

The vote, wherein not all the accused have been winners, was aimed toward choosing the strongest opposition candidates for a legislative council election that the federal government later postponed, citing the coronavirus.

The detentions have been fiercely criticised by governments within the West, together with in Britain and the United States.

Supporters of the safety regulation, which punishes what it broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with international forces with as much as life in jail, say the laws was obligatory to revive stability in Hong Kong after months of pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Among these charged have been the organiser of the first election and former regulation professor Benny Tai, in addition to distinguished democracy campaigners Lester Shum, Joshua Wong, Owen Chow, Wu Chi-wai and Sam Cheung.

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