Following a marathon first-day hearing that was only adjourned after four of the defendants were rushed to hospital, court proceedings for 47 Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians and activists charged with “subversion” under the territory’s China-imposed national security law have resumed.
On Tuesday, defense attorneys filed a motion to reverse the prosecution’s decision to refuse the group bail and hold them in detention for up to three months while police conduct their investigation. They claim that if the evidence against them was not ready, the party could not have been prosecuted.
From veteran former pro-democracy politicians to scholars, attorneys, social workers, and youth activists, the defendants represent a wide cross-section of Hong Kong’s opposition.
Normally, a bail hearing like this will last for longer than a couple of hours.
However, the court’s session on Monday lasted long past midnight as it struggled to deal with the vast number of suspects involved as well as the legal nuances of the broad-worded protection rule, which eliminates the presumption of bail for non-violent offences.
In June of last year, China placed the security law on Hong Kong in an effort to “restore order” in the city following major protests against China’s perceived intervention in Hong Kong, which had turned violent at times.
The law considers any act of subversion, secession, terrorism, or collaboration with foreign powers illegal, and suspects can only be released on bail if they can convince a judge that they no longer pose a threat to national security.
The 47 people charged with subversion allegedly organized an unofficial primary election last summer to choose the best candidates for the city’s legislative elections in the hopes of securing a majority that would enable the pro-democracy camp to block government legislation and press for universal suffrage.
Officials in China and Hong Kong have stated that this is an effort to “overthrow” the city’s government and, as a result, a threat to national security.