Tong Ying-kit could face life in prison after being accused of ‘secession’ for riding a motorbike with a flag calling for territory’s ‘liberation’ into a group of police officers.
Tong Ying-kit, the first person charged under Hong Kong’s year-old National Security Law, went on trial on Wednesday, accused of “secession” and “terrorism” for riding a motorbike carrying a flag that called for the Chinese territory’s liberation into a group of police officers.
If found guilty, 24-year-old Tong could face a life sentence. He is also accused of dangerous driving.
The trial, before three judges and without a jury, is the first under the legislation that China imposed last year after months of protests in 2019. Authorities in Hong Kong and China argued the broadly-worded law was necessary to restore stability to Hong Kong after some of the demonstrations turned violent and was likely only be applied in a tiny number of cases.
Critics said it is being used as tool to quash the pro-democracy movement with dozens of politicians and activists arrested since it came into force.
Diplomats from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were outside the court and proceedings got under way at about 10:45am (02:45 GMT), according to Citizen News.
Tong was detained on July 1, hours after the legislation was imposed, after he allegedly drove his motorbike into a group of police officers during that day’s protests against the security law. The bike carried a black flag with the words “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, a slogan made illegal under the law.
He pleaded not guilty on all three charges.
Under the security legislation, cases can be decided by three judges rather than a jury, which is the usual approach under Hong Kong’s common law system.