A Hong Kong court has denied bail to one of the 12 people who tried to abscond to Taiwan by speedboat pending his appeal against a sentence for another protest-related offence.

Liu Tsz-man appeared at the High Court in front of Court of Appeal Judge Derek Pang on Thursday. The defendant represented himself in court.

Pro-democracy activist Alexandra Wong holding a “Save 12” sign. Photo: Supplied.

Liu was sentenced to 10 months in prison in July for perverting the course of justice through the escape attempt, and 27 months for “possessing anything with intent to destroy or damage property.” Liu was prosecuted under the latter charge after police found raw materials for making petrol bombs and half-finished Molotov cocktails. The total prison time came to 31 months, with part of the sentences running concurrently.

Liu applied for bail on Thursday after filing an appeal against the 27-month prison term in August. But following an hour-long hearing, Pang rejected his bail application.

Under court reporting restrictions on bail proceedings, reports are limited to the result of a bail application, the name of the person applying for bail and their representation, and the offence concerned.

High Court. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The 19-year-old was among 12 Hongkongers, with some facing charges over the 2019 protests, who tried to flee to Taiwan in August 2020. They were captured by Chinese coastguards, and 10 of them were sentenced to jail on the mainland for crossing the border illegally and organising an illegal border crossing.

Liu and another person who were minors at the time were not charged on the mainland and were sent back to Hong Kong in December 2020.

It was revealed after Liu pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice that the escape bid cost up to HK$150,000 per person. Would-be escapees were allegedly told that Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council could offer protection and help them seek permanent residence.

Protests erupted in June 2019 over a later-axed amendment to the city’s extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into the police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.”

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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.