Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and another opposition figure have indicated they will contest incitement charges stemming from a banned June 4 vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, while 10 others have said they will plead guilty.
The 12 defendants returned to the District Court on Friday for another procedural hearing before Chief District Judge Justin Ko King-sau.
Lai and former lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung both indicated they would not plead guilty to inciting others to take part in an unauthorised assembly, with the latter denying an additional count relating to participation.
They are expected to stand trial on November 1, together with former Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, activist Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lam, and four core members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, organiser of the annual vigil. The four are chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, vice-chairman Chow Hang-tung, and standing committee members Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong and Leung Kam-wai.
These activists indicated earlier that they would not plead guilty to the unauthorised assembly or related charges.
Ten others indicated they would plead guilty to similar charges.
They are: former lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Cheung Man-kwong, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick; Labour Party chairman Kwok Wing-kin; Civil Human Rights Front convenor Figo Chan Ho-wun; and alliance members Chiu Yan-loy, Mak Hoi-wah and Leung Kwok-wah.
They are expected to formally enter their pleas on September 9, together with former lawmakers Yeung Sum and Cyd Ho Sau-lan, who previously indicated their intention to plead guilty.
Last year’s vigil was banned for the first time in three decades, with police citing public health concerns relating to the coronavirus pandemic. The vigil was banned again this year on the same grounds.
Six others have also been charged over last year’s event.
Activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung and three former district councillors – Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai and Janelle Leung Hoi-ching – were previously sentenced to between four and 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in the vigil.
Yuen and Shum have lodged appeals against their sentences.
Former lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung and activist Sunny Cheung Kwan-yang, who both also faced participation charges, left Hong Kong before their first court hearing in September last year.