Eight people facing protest-related charges in Hong Kong, who tried to flee to Taiwan by speedboat, appeared in court on Thursday accused of trying to pervert the course of justice. A lawyer for one of them announced that he intended to plead guilty.
The eight were among 12 on the boat which was intercepted by the Chinese coastguard in August 2020. Most served prison terms in mainland China before being returned to Hong Kong and facing a second trial.
Cheung Chun-fu’s representative said that the 24-year-old intended to plead guilty, as he and seven other defendants appeared in District Court before Judge Amanda Woodcock.
They will appear in court again on October 26 to allow more time for legal advice. All eight were remanded in custody after Woodcock denied an application by Yim Man-him for short-term bail.
Under court reporting restrictions, written and broadcast reports are limited to the result of bail proceedings, the name of the person applying for bail and their representation, and the offence concerned.
Spectators in the public gallery shouted “Hang in there!” and “Happy birthday!” as the defendants were leaving the dock. The eight include two underaged fugitives who were handed over by Chinese authorities to Hong Kong police without charge to face trial in the city, after a Shenzhen court said they “admitted wrongdoing.”
A total of nine people were charged with perverting the course of justice. Hoang Lam-phuc, an ethnic Vietnamese aged 17, was sentenced to a training centre in July after pleading guilty to the charge, attempted arson and possessing items with intent to damage property.
Two members of the group remain in prison on the mainland after receiving heavier sentences for organising the speedboat journey.
The 12th member, Andy Li, is facing separate proceedings. He pleaded guilty in August to violating the Beijing-imposed national security law by taking part in a conspiracy to collude with foreign forces along with pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai.