15 bailed - but still not free to go home

Top News | Michael Shum 5 Mar 2021

Fifteen of the 47 defendants pan-democracy politicians charged under the national security law were granted bail in a West Kowloon court, but their hopes of getting home were dashed after the Department of Justice immediately decided to appeal against the decision.

Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Court said that as the prosecution has appealed against their bail, the court must remand the 15 in custody for the next 48 hours before the case is brought before the registrar of the High Court.

One of the designated magistrates presiding over national security cases, So also decided to adjourn the case until May 31, pending police investigation, ending a four-day marathon battle over the bail applications of the 47 that lasted 41 hours.

The 47 defendants were charged with subversion for organizing or taking part in the pro-democracy camp's primary elections last July.

The 15 granted bail were district councilors Cheng Tat-hung, 32; Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, 34; Michael Pang Cheuk-kei, 26; Kalvin Ho Kai-ming, 32; Lawrence Lau Wai-chung, 53; Sze Tak-loy, 38; Sam Cheung Ho-sum, 27; Ng Kin-wai, 25; Ricky Or Yiu-lam, 49; and Lee Yue-shun, 27.

Former lawmakers Helena Wong Pik-wan, 61; Jeremy Tam Man-ho, 45; and Kwok Ka-ki, 59; activist Hendrick Lui Chi-hang, 38; and Mike Lam King-nam, 32, were also granted bail.

Bail was set at between HK$30,000 and HK$100,000.

So also listed conditions including banning them from making speeches or taking part in behavior that could be considered endangering national security. They would also not be allowed to leave home from 12am to 7am every day, or leave Hong Kong, and banned from taking part in any elections, or contact any foreign officials or members of the legislature and would have to report to the police three to four times a week.

Pang and Cheung broke down in tears.

Some defendants' relatives in the public gallery hugged and shook hands with each other while some showed signs of disappointment.

But after learning that the 15 would still have to remain in custody pending the prosecution's appeal against So's decision, Lui's foster mother could not handle the news and screamed inside the court carpark.

Avery Ng Man-yuen, chairman of the League of Social Democrats, said there is only one word to describe the Department of Justice's behavior: "Bastards! Utter bastards!"

"The defendants have gone through a week of torment while facing an unjust charge. After Magistrate So's decision, they had 30 seconds of hope, and it was dashed by the DoJ at once," Ng said.

Eastern district councilor Jocelyn Chau Hui-yan said: "I can hardly tell everyone not to give up, but we will do it a different way, even if there is only a small glimmer of hope."

None of the organizers of the primary elections were allowed bail, including Occupy Central founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who retracted his bail application in court in the evening.

At another hearing yesterday, the Appeal Court pondered his revoked bail for his involvement in the Occupy case.

Tai was sentenced to 16 months in jail on public nuisance charges during the Occupy Central movement, but he had been granted bail after serving four months behind bars, pending an appeal.

As judge Andrew Macrae of the Court of Appeal finished hearing the appeal yesterday, he adjourned the hearing and will hand down a written judgment later. He also ordered Tai to be remanded.

Back to the national security case, primary organizers Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, 35, and Chung Kam-lun, 32, as well as five other defendants, including Ventus Lau Wing-hong, 27, Roy Tam Hoi-pong, 40, and Lau Chak-fung, 24, gave up their rights to appeal against So's decision to deny them bail after eight days.

More defendants also announced quitting parties and groups to which they were affiliated. Carol Ng Man-yee, 50, quit the Labour Party, while Lau also stepped down as the spokesman of the Hong Kong Civil Assembly Team, which will be disbanded.

This came after Jeremy Tam, Kwok and Lee, who were granted bail yesterday, alongside former leader of the party Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, 39, announced on Wednesday that they quit the Civic Party.

All were granted bail except Yeung.

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