A Hong Kong court will discuss the possibility of a government body representing the now-defunct group behind Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Massacre vigils at an upcoming national security law trial.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which was disbanded last September and struck off the Companies Registry a month later, was not represented in court on Monday. Three of its former leaders appeared in front of Acting Chief Magistrate Peter Law.
The group was charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law for allegedly inciting subversion, along with its former chairperson Lee Cheuk-yan and former vice-chairs Chow Hang-tung and Albert Ho.
The court session on Monday touched upon the legal status of the alliance, the first defendant of the case, as it is now disbanded and delisted from the Companies Registry.
Law said that, according to section 360I of the Companies (Winding Up and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, the Official Receiver should represent the alliance in future court dates.
Senior Counsel Robert Lee, representing the Official Receiver, said that it needed more time to clarify the legal status of the alliance and decide whether it could represent the now-defunct organisation.
Richard Tsoi, a former standing committee member of the alliance who is currently behind bars over last year’s banned vigil, also appeared in court on Monday as an “interested party.”
While Tsoi said he wanted to continue his role in the case as an interested party until the alliance had a representative, Law said that Tsoi was not an appointed representative of the alliance and did not have the right to act on its behalf in court.
The acting chief magistrate then dismissed Tsoi’s role as an interested party .
Lee Cheuk-yan, Chow, and Ho all opposed the suggestion, saying that it might harm their interest as co-defendants in the case.
“Having the Official Receiver representing the dead person [the Alliance], but they were never in touch with them while it was still alive,” said Lee. “We watched this person [the Alliance] grow up together, but we cannot speak.”
Chow, who was representing herself, said that it would be “self-prosecution” if the Official Receiver represented the alliance, as it was the Department of Justice that was bringing charges against the group.
While saying that he understood the defendants’ concerns, Law said that it was not the proper stage in the legal proceedings for them to bring up complaints, and barred them from giving statements on February 10, when the court will discuss who represents the alliance.
The acting chief magistrate also set February 14 as the return day to deal with procedures for transferring the case to the Court of First Instance. While the trio did not apply for bail, Chow retained her right to review her bail status and will appear in court on January 19.
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