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Verdict awaited as first Hong Kong safety legislation trial ends

The trial of the primary individual to be charged underneath Hong Kong’s sweeping nationwide safety legislation ended Tuesday after practically a month, and now observers will look ahead to a verdict within the landmark case to see how comparable instances is likely to be handled.

Hong Kong defendant Tong Ying-kit, seen right here in a July 2020 {photograph}, is the primary individual to be tried underneath Hong Kong’s new safety legislation. (Getty Pictures)

The trial of the primary individual to be charged underneath Hong Kong’s sweeping nationwide safety legislation ended Tuesday after practically a month, and now observers will look ahead to a verdict within the landmark case to see how comparable instances is likely to be handled.

Tong Ying-kit, 24, was accused of driving his bike into a bunch of cops whereas carrying a flag bearing the protest slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our instances,” on July 1 final yr, a day after the nationwide safety legislation was enacted.

He pleaded not responsible to prices of inciting secession, terrorism and an alternate cost of harmful driving.

The trial proceeded within the Excessive Courtroom with no jury, a departure from the common-law system in Hong Kong. A verdict shall be handed down on July 27, with life imprisonment the utmost penalty if discovered responsible.

Nationwide safety instances might proceed with no jury if state secrets and techniques should be protected, overseas forces are concerned, or if the non-public security of jurors must be protected. Trials are presided over by judges hand-picked by Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam.

The nationwide safety legislation was imposed on semi-autonomous Hong Kong by Beijing final yr, following months of anti-government protests by these upset by China’s creeping affect over the previous British colony. It outlaws secession, subversion, terrorism and overseas collusion to intervene within the metropolis’s affairs.

Authorities have additionally banned the protest slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our instances,” stating that it has secessionist connotations.

The laws and the crackdown on dissent that has accompanied it have drawn worldwide condemnation. Critics say that the nationwide safety legislation additional infringes the liberty Hong Kong was promised it may preserve when it was handed to Chinese language management from Britain in 1997.

Greater than 100 individuals have been arrested underneath the safety laws.

Tong’s case is being intently watched for clues on how Hong Kong authorities will deal with different nationwide safety instances.

Interpretation is vital

On this case, the interpretation of the protest slogan is vital. Prosecutors say that secession may very well be one of many interpretations of the, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our instances” slogan, and that Tong knowingly incited secession by carrying the flag and driving into the cops.

Tong’s defence attorneys argue that there are a number of interpretations of such a slogan and it’s not attainable to show that Tong was inciting secession. The defence additionally says that there isn’t a proof that Tong dedicated the act intentionally, and that he had prevented crashing into officers.

The defence additionally mentioned that Tong’s actions shouldn’t be thought of terrorism as there was no critical violence or hurt to society.

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