The trial against Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen and five other defendants formally opened in Hong Kong yesterday, initiating controversial proceedings which have been widely criticised as an attack against democracy. Source: Crux.
Cardinal Zen, 90, and five others were arrested in May under a Beijing-imposed national security law for allegedly colluding with foreign forces.
Specifically, they are charged with failing to apply for local society registration for the now defunct 612 Humanitarian Fund between July 16, 2019, and October 31, 2021. The fund, for which they all held leadership positions, provided financial and legal aid to pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets in 2019 to oppose a controversial bill allowing extradition to mainland China.
In addition to Cardinal Zen, others on trial include barrister Margaret Ng; singer-activist Denise Ho; cultural studies scholar Hui Po-keung; ex-legislator Cyd Ho; and activist Sze Ching-wee, the fund’s secretary general before it closed last October.
Each of the defendants pleaded not guilty after their arrest in May, and Cardinal Zen himself was released on bail shortly after his May 11 arrest.
The trial will last until September 23, with the defence expected to argue that the fund had a right to associate under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, a quasi-mini constitution that has been in place in Hong Kong since the British returned the territory to China in 1997.
Hong Kong’s national security law, imposed by Beijing despite mass protests against it, went into effect June 30, 2020, and bans activities described as treason, secession, sedition, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism.
It also stipulates that whenever it deems it necessary, Beijing can establish agencies to help Hong Kong fulfil its security requirements.
Trial opens for Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)