Hong Kong 47: Benny Tai, 4 others begin critical mitigation pleas over subversion convictions

“If we’ve been there when they got arrested, there’s no reason why we’re not here for them during mitigation. I’ll go see and listen to them if possible, and I hope to let them see us and that they know that many people in different positions do care about them,” Shiu said.

But the number of public attendees arriving at the court slowed to a trickle after the winding queue was ushered in at 8.20am.

Nearly 40 police officers, including uniformed, plain clothes and those from the media liaison team were seen standing guard at the main entrance.

More than 10 police vehicles were parked outside the court, but no anti-riot armoured vehicles, dubbed “Sabre-toothed Tigers”, were spotted.

Cars entering court were also searched before being allowed to enter.

Barrister Lawrence Lau Wai-chung, who was earlier acquitted in the case, was spotted outside the court shortly before 9am. He told the Post that he was there to handle a case at the Small Claims Tribunal, rather than attending the mitigation hearing.

Cartoonist Zunzi, barristers Gladys Li Che-hei and Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, as well as former legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing were also seen entering the court.

A representative of the British consulate arrived at 9.20am to attend the hearing.

Other activists to be heard on Tuesday include Au Nok-hin, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin and Ben Chung Kam-lun. The trio are defendants turned prosecution witnesses and organisers of the unofficial Legislative Council primary, which was deemed illegal.

Gordon Ng Ching-hang, who was convicted by the court earlier and considered to have close links with Tai, will also enter a plea in mitigation.

The court convicted 14 of 16 accused who pleaded not guilty to the offence, and 31 others ­admitted the charge before the trial began early last year.

The first day of mitigation please in the Hong Kong 47 trial is under way. Photo: Dickson Lee

The judges, hand-picked by the chief executive to hear national security proceedings, found the unofficial primary poll in July 2020 constituted part of a wider plot to “undermine, destroy or overthrow” the government by creating a constitutional crisis after taking over the legislature.

The court will hear pleas for lesser sentences from the remaining 40 defendants in groups according to their polling districts over the next two months.

Beijing has imposed a three-tier system in classifying offenders found guilty of subversion.

Principal offenders or those committing crimes of a “grave nature” can face life imprisonment or be jailed for at least 10 years.

Those deemed to have “actively” participated in the offence can be sentenced to between three and 10 years.

Other participants can face a maximum of three years in jail, short-term detention or restrictions on movement.


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