Defendant pleads not guilty in HK’s 1st national security law trial
Published: Jun 23, 2021 07:29 PM
Hong Kong citizens assemble to support national security law for Hong Kong on June 28, 2020. Photo: VCG

Hong Kong citizens assemble to support national security law for Hong Kong on June 28, 2020. Photo: VCG

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) started its first trial under the national security for Hong Kong on Wednesday. Observers noted that the trial could be a test for future national security cases.
Tong Ying-kit, who faces three charges, including two related to national security, pleaded not guilty.
Tong, 24, was arrested during a protest on July 1, 2020, a day after the national security law for Hong Kong took effect. Before the arrest, he allegedly rammed a motorcycle into three police officers, displaying a protest slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”
The HKSAR government said in July 2020 that the slogan is pro-independence, secessionist and subversive.
Tong faces three charges: inciting secession, terrorism and dangerous driving. He pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
No jury was present at the trial, as Hong Kong’s justice secretary argued that a jury trial in this case would “put jurors’ safety at risk.” The case is being heard by a panel of three judges assigned by the HKSAR’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam instead.
Prosecutors opened the case by quoting a history scholar as saying the “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” slogan was used with an intention to separate the city from China, to which the defense lawyers objected.
The prosecutors said that the defendant's intent had to be considered in the context of the social environment at the time. The act was committed on the day following the enactment of the national security law and the anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, and at the scene where multiple protests had taken place.

Under the context and circumstance, Tong’s act has the effect of inciting secessionism, Wu Yingpeng, a lawyer and barrister-at-law in Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

“In the social events of the past few years, this slogan has been given by a specific group of stubborn secessionists,” Wu noted. “The slogan is highly iconic and is often used as a symbol. When the slogan is used in large-scale demonstrations, people with the same political ideology can be more excited or respond positively, thus inciting public emotions.”
The prosecutors also noted that Tong aimed to cause serious harm to society by ramming through multiple roadblocks and inflicting grave injuries on officers.
Tong could face life in prison if convicted by the High Court. 

“There are not many cases of prosecution or conviction under the national security law at this stage, so the early court cases have a very important role for similar cases,” Wu said.
The trial is expected to last about three weeks, South China Morning Post reported.
Global Times