14 defendants convicted in subversion case, HKSAR government condemns interference in trial

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30th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Court of First Instance of the High Court announced its verdict today in a conspiracy to commit subversion case involving 16 defendants. With the exception of two defendants for whom the evidence was deemed insufficient, the remaining 14 defendants were found guilty. The Department of Justice (DoJ) has promptly informed the court of its intention to appeal the verdict for the defendants who were not convicted.

According to the reasons stated in the verdict, by March and April 2020, the true intentions of the so-called “Project 35+” were made clear to the public. The aim was to undermine, dismantle, or overthrow the established political system and structure of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as defined in the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle. The individuals involved conspired to systematically vote against the government’s budget and public expenditure proposals after securing a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo) through the so-called “primary election.” Their intention was to pressure the HKSAR Government into meeting the so-called “Five Demands Not One Less” and force the Chief Executive to dissolve the LegCo and eventually resign. This would render the government incapable of introducing new policies or implementing existing ones that benefit the people’s livelihood. Such actions would significantly undermine the authority and power of both the Chief Executive and the HKSAR Government, constituting a serious interference with the lawful performance of duties and functions, effectively subverting the State’s power.

During the trial, evidence presented in court revealed the defendants’ proposal of the “10 steps to mutual destruction,” involving large-scale street riots and other means to paralyse Hong Kong society. Combined with international political and economic sanctions, their goal was to achieve “mutual destruction,” inflicting suffering on the public.

Chief Executive Mr. John Lee commented, “The verdict confirms the occurrence of the conspiracy to commit subversion, which aimed at undermining, destroying, or overthrowing the existing political system and structure of the HKSAR as established under the Basic Law and the ‘one country, two systems’ principle. A total of 47 individuals were charged in this case. With the exception of the two defendants for whom the evidence was insufficient, the remaining 45 defendants were convicted, underscoring the extent and gravity of the criminal scheme. The DoJ has already notified the court of its plan to appeal the verdict concerning the two defendants. Safeguarding national security is the responsibility of the HKSAR, and we will resolutely combat acts and activities that endanger it. We will ensure strict adherence to the law and take all necessary measures to prevent, suppress, and punish acts and activities jeopardizing national security.”

A spokesperson for the HKSAR Government condemned the blatant attempts by external forces to smear the Judiciary, the DoJ, and law enforcement agencies during the trial. They engaged in intimidatory political tactics and made misleading comments in an effort to interfere with the fair trial process. The HKSAR Government strongly condemns such a flagrant disregard for the rule of law.