Hong Kong’s High Court has rejected the latest bail application from former district councillor Roy Tam, who is one of dozens of pro-democracy figures detained for close to six months pending trial under the national security law.

The 41-year-old, who served in the Tsuen Wan District Council before quitting in April, appeared before Justice Esther Toh on Monday morning. His application at the High Court came after he was denied bail by Chief Magistrate Victor So last month.

High Court. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Tam is among a group of 47 charged on February 28 with conspiracy to commit subversion in connection with an unofficial legislative primary election held in July 2020. So far, only 13 of the 47 have been released on bail.

Toh, one of the judges specially selected to hear national security cases, refused to grant bail to the former member of the now-disbanded Neo Democrats party after hearing submissions from his lawyer David Ma and government prosecutor Andy Lo.

Toh said her written judgement would be handed down later.

Suspects in national security cases face much more difficulty in applying for bail than those in criminal cases. Article 42 of the Beijing-imposed legislation stipulates that no bail shall be granted unless the court has sufficient grounds for believing the defendant will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.

Roy Tam raises his thumb up as he is being transferred onto a prison van on March 3, 2021. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Dozens of the accused face further months in custody as they await a start date for their trial. The group will appear again in front of the chief magistrate on September 23, when the lower court is set to formally handle a prosecution request to transfer the high-profile case to the High Court.

Under the sweeping legislation, subversion is punishable by up to life in prison. The security law – enacted on June 30 last year – also criminalises secession, collusion with foreign powers and terrorist acts.

Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.