3 Hong Kong University students freed on bail after judge considered dropping mourning motion for assailant from police
Three University of Hong Kong (HKU) students facing national security charges have been released on bail after the judge considered the early withdrawal of a student union council resolution expressing sympathy for a man who stabbed a police officer and then committed suicide.
Former HKU student union and board members Kinson Cheung, Charles Kwok and Chris Todorovski were released on bail in September by High Court Judge Esther Toh, and the reason for the court ruling was released on Friday. .
The trio, along with Anthony Yung, were arrested and charged under Beijing’s national security law in August for allegedly advocating terrorism. Yung was released on bail in August. This was the first national security law case where all the accused were released on bail.
According to the court ruling, lead attorney Hectar Pun, representing Cheung, argued that the early withdrawal showed the 19-year-old was neither “determined” nor “resolute”.
“Significantly, [Pun] also argued that the open withdrawal and the apology that came out very soon after the resolution was announced showed that the likelihood of [Cheung] committing similar acts in the future would be minimal, as it is clearly shown that it is neither “determined” nor “resolved”, “says the judgment.
Toh also wrote in the judgment that Pun “rightly observed” that – under the sweeping legislation – “a lighter sentence may be imposed” or the sentence may be reduced, or, in cases of a “minor offense”, the penalty may be waived if the defendant “in the process of committing an offense, willfully terminates the commission of the offense or voluntarily and effectively prevents its consequences”.
A motion was first tabled and passed by the HKU Student Union Council on July 7 to mourn Leung Kin-fai, the 50-year-old man who committed suicide after stabbing and injuring a police officer on July 1, the 24th. anniversary of the handover from Hong Kong to China.
Leung’s act – condemned as “lone wolf terrorism” by authorities – was called a “sacrifice” in the student motion.
However, the council, led by Kwok, then withdrew the motion in the early hours of July 9 and apologized, after drawing criticism from the government, including from Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam and the Security Bureau. The union leadership then resigned.
“Conscientious, responsible and caring”
The court document also revealed that HKU law professor Albert Chen wrote a letter in favor of Cheung, claiming that he believed the former student leader “has now realized the mistake that he and his comrades have made. Students from the Student Union Council have committed, truly regret what he has done and sincerely apologized for his mistake.
âUnder these circumstances, I firmly believe that [Cheung] would not engage in any speech or act constituting an attack on national security if released on bail, âToh wrote.
The judge also explained why she granted Kwok and Todorovski bail, saying she had “no doubts about their background” with the two students being described as “conscientious, responsible and caring” by people who knew them.
âBoth have accomplished a lot academically and both have clear records. Both are rated by people who know them as conscientious, responsible and caring. I have no doubts about their background, âToh wrote.
“Similar to [Cheung], it is also argued on their behalf that, both [Kwok and Todorovski] no longer had any links with HKUSU and had resigned their posts, nor any links with foreign or local organizations that might have political affiliation.
The National Security Law, imposed by Beijing in June last year, criminalized subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces, and terrorist acts, which have been broadly defined to include disruption of transportation and d ‘other infrastructure.
Applications for bail in national security cases must also be subject to a more stringent assessment, where the judge must not only consider the risk of the accused absconding, the likelihood of recidivism or hindrance to justice, but must also have “sufficient grounds to believe that the criminal suspect or the defendant will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.”
The four will appear in court again on January 20.