Hong Kong opposition activist Tam Tak-chi has been denied bail ahead of trial, after he was charged under the city’s colonial-era sedition law and remanded by a lower court.
Tam, who faces seven counts of uttering seditious words, and six counts of public order offences, in three separate cases stemming from last year’s anti-government protests, had his bail application dismissed by the High Court on Thursday.
The leading figure of localist group People Power was the first person to be charged with sedition since Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.
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After the hearing, the group’s chairman and lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, said he was pessimistic about Tam’s chances of winning bail when he next appeared in court on November 17.
“The [Hong Kong] government has exhausted all means to persecute Tam Tak-chi,” he said. “They do not simply want to frighten Tam, they want to frighten all people in Hong Kong.
“We will consult lawyers and study the next step forward. We hope Hongkongers will keep speaking the truth without fear.”
Prosecutors have alleged that Tam initially violated the rarely used law at a park in Tai Po on January 17, before committing similar offences on six more occasions in as many places, in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island, between March 15 and July 19.
He was remanded by Fanling Court on September 8, after Principal Magistrate Don So Man-lung was told he had made seditious remarks, including chanting “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” and “Five demands, not one less”.
His other chants targeted police, including “Rogue cops and their families go to hell”, “Disband the police force”, and another criticising officers’ handling of the protests.
Prosecutors claimed Tam’s comments were meant to “bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or to raise discontent or disaffection among inhabitants of Hong Kong, or to counsel disobedience to law or to any lawful order”.
Other charges include, incitement to take part in an unauthorised assembly, disorderly conduct in public, and refusing or wilfully neglecting to obey an order given by a police officer.
Tam was first arrested on January 25 over the alleged offences in Tai Po, before he was released by police without charge on February 18.
He was arrested again on September 6 in a high-profile operation by police’s national security unit, but was not charged under the new national security law, which targets acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Instead, he was accused of sedition under Section 10 of the Crimes Ordinance, which states that anyone who utters seditious words can be fined HK$5,000 (US$645) and jailed for two years for a first offence.
Tam’s cases will be transferred to the District Court for trial.
This article Hong Kong opposition activist Tam Tak-chi denied bail by the High Court in sedition case first appeared on South China Morning Post