Ten Democratic politicians and activists have said they would plead guilty to “illegal assembly” for attending a rally marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in Hong Kong.
The defendants, including former lawmakers Albert Ho, Eddie Chu and Andrew Wan, were among a group of 26 people accused of attending a banned candlelight vigil for victims of the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 last year.
Cheung Man-kwong, Figo Chan and Kwok Wing-kin, as well as former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung and former district councilors Chiu Yan-loy, Leung Kwok-wah and Mak Hoi-wah, also said they would plead guilty.
Prosecutors said in district court on Friday that pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai, who is already serving jail time on charges related to the 2019 protest movement, would plead not guilty.
Lai is also awaiting trial for “colluding with a foreign power” under a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power since July 1, 2020.
Some of the defendants greeted friends and supporters in the public gallery, with spectators observing that many had lost weight in prison.
Twelve of the 20 defendants are now expected to officially plead guilty during their trial on September 9.
The trial will likely last two days, with the prosecution calling 21 witnesses, with all hearings being held in English.
“Actually, I’m pretty calm because a lot of my fellow soldiers, Lee Cheuk-yan, Chow Hang-tung and so on, are already in jail or in pre-trial detention,” Kwok told reporters before appearing. before the tribunal.
“So many unimaginable things have happened in Hong Kong in the past few months, and I think the main thing anyone can do is prepare to face the persecution that is to come,” he said.
Some of the 26 defendants – including veteran protest leader and pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong – have pleaded guilty and are already serving sentences ranging from four to 10 months in prison.
Former lawmaker Nathan Law has fled the city to start a new life in the UK.
Meanwhile, a national security judge on Friday placed two people behind bars after their arrest in connection with the publication of a series of children’s books on sheep, deemed “seditious” by the authorities.
Lai Man-ling, 25, president of the General Union of Speech-Language Pathologists of Hong Kong, and Melody Yeung, 27, vice-president of the union, were charged with “conspiracy to print, publish, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publications ”.
Police and prosecutors say the books, about a village of sheep defending itself against wolves, were intended to “incite hatred against the government and the judiciary.”
Lai and Yeung were jailed on remand after being denied bail by Chief Justice Victor So of the West Kowloon Court.
Supporters gathered outside, wearing cartoon masks depicting sheep, to protest the case.
Police warned that more charges could be laid against Lai, Yeung and others involved in the case, which saw the speech therapists union raided, five officers arrested and more than 500 copies of the books confiscated on July 22. .
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.