Prosecution to appeal after Hong Kong court acquits two in national security case

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Barrister Lawrence Lau Wai-chung (right) and Lee Yue-shun (left).

30th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Two opposition figures, Lawrence Lau Wai-chung and Lee Yue-shun, were acquitted of subversion charges under Hong Kong’s stringent national security law. This decision marks the first instance of acquittal since the law was enacted in response to the 2019 protests.

The case involved a total of 16 defendants, accused of their participation in an unofficial primary election for the Legislative Council in 2020, which was deemed by authorities as an attempt to subvert state power. Alongside Lau and Lee, prominent figures such as former Democratic Party lawmakers Helena Wong and Lam Cheuk-ting, as well as ex-district councillors Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying and Kalvin Ho Kai-ming, were found guilty.

The court opined that the objective of the primary was to enhance the opposition’s ability to gain control of the Legislative Council, thereby aiming to “undermine, destroy or overthrow” the government. This verdict comes after a comprehensive 118-day trial, the largest under the national security law so far.

While Lau and Lee were acquitted, the prosecution has signalled intentions to challenge these verdicts, requesting that both individuals remain on bail pending the outcome of the appeal. Lee has contested the imposition of bail conditions, whereas Lau has not opposed them. The court has adjourned to later in the day to deliberate on these matters.