This promises to be a raw display of rule-by-law. It seems most of the accused will plead guilty to ‘conspiracy to commit subversion’. Not because they broke any law known at the time (the authorities took no action when the polls took place), but because they see no prospect of a fair trial for NatSec charges. The maximum sentence is life, and after a year and a half in jail without trial or bail, it is their only hope of ever seeing freedom again.
A brave few look likely to plead not guilty. It’s hard to believe they would get a full life sentence – but the NatSec regime is vindictive, and they will no doubt pay for refusing to kowtow.
Another trial in front of a NatSec judge starts – against 76-year-old activist Koo Sze-yiu for ‘sedition’ (planning a protest against the Winter Olympics)…
The court heard that police took a coffin away from Koo’s Cheung Sha Wan home, which had several slogans written on it, including “beat the Communist Party,” “end one-party rule,” “democracy and human rights above Winter Olympics,” and “getting rich just by eating shit under the national security law.”
The last straw for Vidler & Co. came when Stanley Chan, a fiery security judge, named the company six times in a judgement convicting four protesters of unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons.
Chan said the firm’s phone number was on some “legal assistance resources” cards found on the defendants, and that the cards “reflected a sense of organisation behind the incidents”.
Jerome Cohen adds…
Also important … was the impact of changes in the government’s Legal Aid scheme designed to reduce the income of those firms that were deemed to be too expert in civil rights defense and handling too many cases challenging the government.
School libraries remove hundreds of books that ‘threaten national security’.
And the police aren’t sure whether it is legal to watch a movie.