The trial of the “Hong Kong 12” this week must have been attended by a representative of China’s National Party Congress, the city’s delegate to Beijing Tam Yiu-chung insisted on Thursday. Tam, however, was unable to confirm the identity of those present during the trial and no-one has yet stated they were present.
Tam’s comments were made after the presiding Shenzhen court said both Hong Kong and mainland representatives from China’s top governing body – its political advisory body – and detainees’ family members were present during the hearing.
“I believe if [the court] said so, then someone must have attended it,” Tam told a RTHK programme.
The detainees’ family members have refuted the court’s claims in statements to the local press, saying they were were unable to attend due to the short notice given by mainland authorities. They also told the press that they were limited to looking up the results of the trial online.
Ten of the 12 fugitives arrested for illegally entering mainland waters while attempting to flee to Taiwan in late August were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from seven months to three years by the Shenzhen Yantian District People’s Court on Wednesday.
The closed-door trial has drawn criticism from international governments – including the UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab – after foreign diplomats and reporters were barred from attending the proceedings on Tuesday. Shenzhen authorities claimed that all public seats had already been reserved.
The 12 had been facing charges relating to the 2019 pro-democracy protests before their attempt to flee by speedboat to Taiwan. One member of the group had been arrested under the security law in early August.
Earlier this week, ten of the 12 were jailed for up to three years for illegally entering Chinese waters.
Meanwhile, the two minors who were returned to the city on Wednesday appeared withdrawn, according to representatives from the campaign “Save12hkyouths” who have been assisting the detainees’ family members.
“Their spirits are dampened and they refuse to talk about what happened in the last four months,” campaign member and activist Lester Shum told the press. The 12 had been held since late August in detention in mainland China during which they had been denied contact to family and legal representation of their choice.
Shum also questioned the legitimacy of suggestions by Hong Kong authorities to lay additional charges on the pair. “They have already served four months in detention on the mainland. Now, they are thinking of laying additional charges for the same incident… Is this in accordance with the principles of Hong Kong’s Basic Law?” he asked.
“For now, I believe Hong Kong’s judicial system can still protect Hongkongers. But in a tyrannical environment, our brothers and sisters have to face successive trials and proceedings,” Shum added. “All we can do is help them in whatever way we can.”
He also called on the public to not forget about the ten imprisoned across the border in Shenzhen.
The group also confirmed the pair — who remain in police custody — have had brief contact with their family members and have secured legal representation.