The transfer of the national security case against the defunct organiser of Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen vigils and two of the group’s leaders has been adjourned for another three months.

Three former leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China – Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, and Chow Hang-tung – appeared in front of Principal Magistrate Peter Law at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Friday.

tiananmen vigil june 4 victoria park (9)
The annual vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2020, to commemorate victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Photo: May James/HKFP.

The trio, along with the disbanded Alliance, were accused of incitement to subversion under the Beijing-imposed national security law. The sweeping legislation also criminalised secession, collusion with foreign forces, and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

The court was scheduled to handle the prosecution’s application to transfer the case against the Alliance, Lee, and Ho to the High Court on Friday. Law adjourned the proceedings to September 14.

It will be a year since the group faced prosecution the next time Lee and Ho appear in court for the case in September. Lee, Ho, and Chow were first brought to court for the Alliance case on September 10 last year.

While both former lawmakers were serving jail terms for other protest related charges at the time of their prosecution, Chow was denied bail in September, 2021, and has since been sentenced to prison over the banned 2020 and 2021 Tiananmen vigils.

West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
West Kowloon Law Courts Building. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Following the arrests and prosecution of multiple members, the Alliance dissolved following a members’ vote in September last year. The group is now represented by the Official Receiver, a government body.

Under reporting restrictions on committal proceedings – whereby a magistrate determines whether there is enough evidence for the case to be transferred to the High Court for trial or sentence – written and broadcast reports are limited to including certain details.

Only the names of the defendants, magistrates and lawyers, the alleged offence, the court’s decision, whether legal aid was granted, and future court dates can be mentioned.

The Alliance organised Hong Kong’s annual candlelight vigils commemorating victims of the Tiananmen crackdown, which occurred on June 4, 1989, ending months of student-led protests in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack 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.