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Hong Kong: First security law defendant stands trial

Google Oneindia News

Hong Kong, June 23: The first person to be charged under Hong Kong's controversial national security law pleaded not guilty as he stood trial on Wednesday.

Tong Ying-kit was arrested on July 1, 2020, hours after the law came into effect, for allegedly driving his motorbike into a crowd of police officers while holding a pro-Hong Kong independence flag.

Hong Kong: First security law defendant stands trial

The 24-year-old was refused bail and was assigned a panel of three judges rather than a jury, a staple of Hong Kong's common law practices prior to the security law.

Departure from Hong Kong's common law

Tong is facing charges of terrorism and inciting secession for the anti-government slogan on his flag which said "Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times." The crimes of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with a foreign power can carry up to life sentences.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision to not try Tong with a jury, citing concerns over the safety of jurors and their families.

The refusal to offer bail also rests on the new security law that places the burden on the defendant to prove that they will not break the law if released.

New powers granted to courts

The security law, imposed by Beijing and its local supporters, has been the target of intense protest in Hong Kong.

Beijing cracked down against the dissent using the powers granted by the national security law to do so.

Under the new rules, imposed from Beijing after they failed to pass in Hong Kong, calling for the independence of the semi-autonomous city is illegal. Several key figures have also been detained and charged under the law.

Article 46 of the security law permits the court to scrap juries under three possible conditions — protecting state secrets, cases involving foreign forces and protecting the personal safety of jurors.

ab/msh (Reuters, AP)

Source: DW

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