Twenty-nine activists, including Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Joshua Wong Chi-fung, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to subvert state powers for their role in a primary election for the Legislative Council in July 2020.
The restriction on media coverage of the case was lifted yesterday by National Security Judge and Acting Chief Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen after a High Court ruling.
Tai, co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, and Wong, a former student leader, are among 47 activists charged with conspiring to overthrow state powers under national security law in February 2021.
In the primary election, the pro-democracy camp wanted to determine the candidates to run in the Legco elections, and the elected candidates would blindly reject government bills and budgets to cripple the government. More than 600,000 Hong Kongers voted in the primary elections.
Defendants who pleaded guilty included Tai, 58; Wang, 25; At Nok-hin, 35; Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, 37; Ben Chung Kam-lun, 33; Tiffany Yuen Kawai, 28; Fergus Leung Fong-wai, 25; Andy Chui Chikin, 55; Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, 35; Claudia Mo Manching, 65; Frankie Fung Tat-chun, 27; Nathan Lau Chak-fung, 25; and Jeremy Jansen Tam Man-ho, 47.
Others were Kinda Li Ka-tat, 31; Tam Takchi, 49; Wu Chi-wai, 59; Eddie Chu Hoi Dick, 44; Sam Cheung Ho-sum, 29; Prince Wong Ji Yuet, 24; Andrew Wan Siu-kin, 53; Kwok Khaki, 61; Carol Ng Man-yee, 51; Roy Tam Hoi-pong, 42; Ventus Lau Wing-hong, 28; Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, 41; Gary Fan Kwok-wai, 55; Hendrick Lui Chi Hang, 40; Lester Shum O-fai, 29; and Henry Wong Pak-yu, 31.
They will appear in the High Court in groups from September 1-8, September 28 and November 1-4 for case management hearings, which are expected to last an hour.
The other 18 defendants have pleaded not guilty and will be tried before a three-judge High Court panel after Justice Secretary Paul Lam Ting-kwok ordered there to be no jury in the case because it involved “extraneous factors”.
Among them, Cheng Tat-hung, 33 years old; Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, 35; Michael Pang Cheuk-kei, 28; Kalvin Ho Kai-ming, 33; Lawrence Lau Wai-chung, 54; Helena Wong Pikwan, 63; Sze Tak-loy, 40; Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lam, 31; and Raymond Chan Chichuen, 50.
Others are Owen Chow Ka-shing, 25; Lam Cheuk-ting, 45; Leung Kwok-hung, 66; Mike Lam King Nam, 33; Ricky Ou Yiu-lam, 51; Lee Yue Shun, 28; Winnie Yu Waiming, 35; Gordon Ng Ching-hang, 43; and Ng Kin-wai, 26.
Under the Security Law, the main perpetrators of subversion cases can be sentenced to life or fixed-term imprisonment of at least 10 years. Active participants could be jailed for three to 10 years, while others could be jailed for up to three years.
The court heard that Tai first proposed that activists take more than 35 seats in Legco in December 2019, so they could vote against the government’s budget and force then chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to disband Legco and resign after that.
Tai and Au held a press conference on March 26, 2020 to present their plan. Au also encouraged people to register to vote so that the pro-democracy camp could win in the legislative elections.
In April, Tai published an article – “10 Steps of Real Mutual Destruction” – aimed at destroying Legco’s operation, crippling the government and overthrowing state powers.
The primary election was held on July 11-12, 2020, and 31 candidates won. But nine of them were later disqualified from running in the Legco elections because “they did not truly respect the Basic Law”. The election was eventually postponed due to the pandemic.