The 47 people who organized or participated in the "primary election" of the democrats in the Legislative Council election in July last year were formally charged by the police on February 28 this year for "conspiracy to subvert state power."
The case was first presented to West Kowloon Magistracy on March 1, but the bail matters were not initially handled until March 4, the fourth day of the presentation, and then on May 31 and July 8 this year. , September 23 and this Monday (November 29), the trial procedures have not been completed so far.
Prior to the latest hearing, the Department of Justice had applied for adjournment of the hearing on the grounds that a large number of documents needed to be translated in the middle of this month, but the court refused.
However, after a four-hour hearing, the designated judge and acting chief magistrate of the "Minato National Security Law" Luo Quan decided to adjourn the trial date to March 4 next year, which is more than one year since the date of the initial trial.
Except for the 14 defendants who were released on bail, the remaining 33 were remanded in custody for at least nine months.
Time-consuming and wrecked translation of 10,000 pages of documents in English
"Subversion of state power" is a new crime from the "Minato National Security Law" that took effect in July last year. There is no local case to refer to. In addition, the case of the "primary election" is quite complicated. Understandably, but it takes nearly a year, which is a long time.
A few days ago the prosecution revealed that only about 2,000 pages of more than 12,000 pages of documents had been translated. The defense also claimed that the prosecution had not provided them with specific accusations and factual summaries, and the progress of work was undoubtedly too slow.
Of course, the defense and the court have always insisted that documents must be transcripts in English, and there are also issues in itself.
In opposing the Department of Justice's application for adjournment of the hearing, Rod Quan deliberately added that even if the prosecution cannot submit a certified English transcript, it must prepare relevant cases to explain the legal basis. In fact, most of the people involved in the case and the lawyers represented this time The copies are all proficient in Chinese and Cantonese. In this case, time and public resources need to be wasted to translate a large number of documents with limited meaning.
Responsible to disclose materials for early hearing
Although the defendant is convicted and sentenced in the future, the number of days of remand will be counted.
However, after all, it is not always possible to know whether the defendant is guilty or not. There is always a need to interrogate as soon as possible and reduce the number of days of remand.
At the height of the demonstrations in 2019, there have been voices worried about whether the court can afford a lot of work. Now it seems that the administrative efficiency of the Department of Justice should also be one of the concerns.
In particular, the "primary election" case involved a major national security event, which was wasted a year without a real trial, which is hardly satisfactory.
On the other hand, Article 87 of the Basic Law also stipulates that “Anyone shall have the right to receive a fair trial by the judiciary as soon as possible after being legally arrested.” Fully and timely disclosure of relevant or potentially relevant materials to the defense...The responsibility of disclosing materials, from the pre-trial before the court to the end of the criminal legal proceedings, is a clear responsibility that the prosecution must continue to implement.” The current prosecution It seems that there is a certain distance between performance and this.
The former chairman of the Democratic Party, Emily Lau, posted on social media lamenting that the case "formal trial has not yet been held." The defendants have been detained for a long time. The Pakatan Harapan Secretary-General and former property and construction councillor Shi Liqian also responded in English, saying, "This is not what we know. And the beloved Hong Kong".
Regardless of what the two pointed out, at least in terms of the prosecution’s guarantee that the trial will proceed as soon as possible and the timely disclosure of materials, Hong Kong today may indeed be worse than before.
The legal aid reform must achieve judicial justice. The occurrence of "unjust cases" will not be a single problem. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is absolutely capable of handling the case of Li Zhiying.