South China Morning Post
Forty-seven Hong Kong opposition activists charged with subversion over an unofficial primary election last year returned to court on Tuesday, after protracted bail proceedings the day before came to a halt in the early hours and four of the accused were sent to hospital. West Kowloon Court had heard fewer than half the 47 bail applications after 10 hours of submissions to the bench in what is the city’s largest prosecution to date under the national security law. Starting at 4pm on Monday, the hearing was finally forced to adjourn after defendant Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying fainted in the dock at about 1.45am and was subsequently sent to hospital.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. Co-defendants “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Roy Tam Hoi-pong and Mike Lam King-nam were also taken in an ambulance after saying they felt unwell. Tuesday’s hearing began in the absence of defendant Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the legal scholar who organised the unofficial primary, as he was excused from the morning session to attend a separate hearing at the Court of Appeal. Also absent were the four who fell ill earlier and defendant Andy Chui Chi-kin, who was hospitalised before Monday’s hearing due to an unknown medical condition. Prosecutors have requested the court remand the 47 in jail, accusing them of plotting to seize control of the legislature via what they called the “35-plus” plan in a bid to paralyse the government and oust the city’s leader. The 47, together with eight others who have not been charged, were first arrested in January. All except those already serving jail terms on other charges had previously been granted bail, but they were detained ahead of Monday’s hearing. While police requested that the 47 report on Sunday, earlier than scheduled, prosecutors revealed in court that the investigation was incomplete and asked the case to be postponed for three months – meaning the defendants would serve at least that long in jail if denied bail. That revelation drew a backlash from the other side of the bench, with defence lawyers calling prosecutors’ handling of the case “draconian” and raising concerns their clients could end up staying behind bars for years before the actual trial even begins. Monday’s hearing drew hundreds of supporters of the accused, many of whom chanted anti-government slogans while queuing outside the court building. Police raised warning flags in response, notifying those in the crowd they could be in violation of the national security law or the city’s Covid-19 social-distancing rules. These Canadians say they will never return to Hong Kong amid dual citizenship debate The force stepped up its presence at the court ahead of Tuesday’s session, with officers stationed around the block and at a nearby railway station, where they could be seen stopping and searching passers-by. An hour before the hearing commenced, queues outside the court contained dozens rather than hundreds seeking entrance, and signs and chants were absent in a stark contrast to Monday. Joakim Ladeborn, deputy consul general from the Sweden consulate was among those in the queue. He said he was also there on Monday with EU colleagues but failed to get into the courtroom as there was no space. According to Ladeborn, only British diplomats managed to enter. Explainer: Why have Hong Kong’s opposition figures been charged with subversion? “It was a long night … That must be very exhausting for everyone,” he said. “I was surprised that so many people were in line with us [on Monday]. It shows that people are concerned [about the court case].” Emily Lau Wai-hing, former chairperson of the Democratic Party, meanwhile, blasted the previous night’s prolonged legal proceedings, citing Yeung’s fainting after more than nine hours in court. “I thought in Hong Kong, we always have respect for due process. So if you cramp 47 people into the courtroom it’s going to take time,” she said. Lau added that it was “ridiculous” for the authorities to lock up the defendants even though they are requesting three more months to investigate. “That’s not Hong Kong. It’s crazy,” she said. “The whole world is watching, they can see how ridiculous it has become.” More to follow …More from South China Morning Post:Hong Kong national security law: defence slams ‘draconian’ case against 47 opposition figures – but proceedings halted after defendant faintsThese Canadians say they will never return to Hong Kong, amid dual citizenship debateWhy have Hong Kong’s opposition figures been charged with subversion and does the camp now face total wipeout?National security law: Chinese University of Hong Kong’s new student union steps down after school cut it off citing possible legal breachesThis article National security law: Hong Kong court resumes hearings for accused opposition activists after marathon session ends with hospital visits for four first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.