A Hong Kong court has rejected one of the appeals lodged by the Department of Justice (DoJ) against the decision to grant bail to 11 of the 47 democrats charged under the national security law, while revoking the bail of another detained democrat.

On Thursday, High Court judge Esther Toh rejected the appeal against Chief Magistrate Victor So’s decision to grant bail to former Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong, but she approved the appeal against District Councillor Ng Kin-wai’s bail, who will now remain in custody.

Ng Kin-wai. File photo: Ng Kin-wai, via Facebook.

Toh ruled that Wong can be bailed under the conditions set by So, which include a cash bail HK$100,000 and surety of HK$100,000. Wong is also required to report to a police four days a week, and follow a curfew from midnight to 7am everyday.

The former lawmaker is also barred from organising or participating in any elections, making any speech or action that may be in violation of the national security law, or contacting any foreign politicians or government officials.

After Wong’s hearing, Toh approved the DoJ’s appeal and revoked Ng’s bail. Ng was then remanded in custody.

Helena Wong. File photo: Helena Wong, via Facebook.

The group stand accused of conspiring to commit subversion by organising or participating in a primary election for the since-postponed Legislative Council election. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment.

So initially granted bail to 15 people out of the group of 47 democrats last Thursday, following a marathon hearing that stretched over four days. The DoJ immediately applied to appeal against So’s decision, and the group were remanded in custody along with those denied bail.

Toh will hear the appeals against the rest of the nine pro-democracy figures initially granted bail on Saturday and Monday.

Photo: Studio Incendo.

Aside from the seven suspects who are choosing not to lodge a review against So’s decision to deny them bail, 25 democrats will go to court on Friday at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court for a review of the chief magistrate’s decision.

Reporting restrictions

Following So’s refusal to lift reporting restrictions on the bail hearing of the 47 democrats last week, Toh also rejected reporters’ requests to waive the restrictions.

Toh said that she understood that open justice is an important principle, but she had a duty to ensure that future legal procedures can be carried out fairly. She added that she had to protect the rights of both the prosecution and the defendants, and hence refused to lift relevant restrictions.

Under section 9P of the Criminal Procedures Ordinance, written and broadcast reports of bail proceedings can only include the result the name of the person applying for bail and their representation, and the offence concerned. 

Violators could face a fine of HK$50,000 and six months in jail.

Correction 12.03.2021: A previous version of the article wrongly stated that Chief Magistrate Victor So initially granted bail to 11 people last Thursday. He granted bail to 15 people, and the four people were bailed out last Friday after the Department of Justice dropped the appeal against So’s decision to grant them bail.

Candice Chau

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.