Five out of 26 pro-democracy activists arrested for taking part in an unauthorised Tiananmen Massacre vigil last year intend to plead guilty, lawyers said Friday when the group appeared in court for a preliminary hearing.

Joshua Wong, former lawmaker Eddie Chu, and district councillors Tiffany Yuen, Jannelle Leung and Lester Shum appeared in West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court.

Tiananmen vigil Victoria Park 2020
The annual vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2020, to commemorate victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Photo: May James/HKFP.

Wong and 25 other people including activist Lee Cheuk-yan, media tycoon Jimmy Lai and former lawmakers “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Wu Chi-wai were charged in August last year with organising and taking part in the annual June 4 candlelight vigil marking the anniversary of the 1989 massacre, as well as inciting others to attend.

liaison office july 21 china extradition
Joshua Wong. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

The five who plan to plea guilty will appear again on April 30 to enter a formal plea and submit mitigation. Wong is already serving a 13.5-month sentence for organising and inciting an unauthorised assembly outside police headquarters in Wan Chai in June 2019.

Lai has been in custody since New Year’s Eve after the government appealed against a court’s decision to grant the media tycoon bail over alleged national security law offences.

June 4th unauthorised assembly
Leung Kwok-hung (second to left) and Figo Chan (second to right) outside the West Kowloon Magistrates Court on Friday. Photo: League of Social Democrats, via Facebook.

Wu had his bail revoked last month after it was found he had failed to surrender a British passport despite a court order.

Nathan Law and Sunny Cheung have both fled Hong Kong and the remaining 19 defendants will appear in court on June 11. The court has issued a warrant for Law and Cheung.

The Tiananmen crackdown occurred on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.