Emily Lau Wai-hing, pro-democracy activist, gestures as she appears before Magistrates' Court.
Photo: Anthony Kwan / dpa
The largest trial to date for alleged violations of the controversial "security law" has begun in Hong Kong.
As the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported, 18 of a total of 47 accused appeared in court on Monday who had previously stated that they did not want to plead guilty.
Among the 47 accused are numerous prominent activists such as former student leader Joshua Wong and law lecturer Benny Tai.
The group of opposition activists had already been charged almost two years ago.
The majority of them have been in custody since then.
The group is accused of organizing illegal primary elections ahead of Hong Kong's Legislative Council elections in 2020, which were later canceled due to the pandemic.
In doing so, the accused had committed a threat to the state and violated the "security law" introduced in late summer of the same year.
Two defendants plead guilty
At the start of the trial on Monday, two of the 18 defendants changed their statements and pleaded guilty.
According to Hong Kong media reports, the process will take around 90 days.
Then the sentence for the rest of the group, who had previously pleaded guilty, should also be announced.
The passing of the so-called security law as a reaction to the demonstrations in Hong Kong, which lasted around a year, met with sharp criticism internationally.
It targets activities that Beijing classifies as subversive, separatist, terrorist or conspiratorial.
Hong Kong has been part of China since July 1, 1997.
However, it is governed according to the »one country, two systems« principle.
This agreement actually provides that Hong Kongers will enjoy “a high degree of autonomy” and many freedoms until 2047.
But since the passage of the security law, many have only spoken of »one country, one system«.