By Shirley Lau
Hong Kong, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- At least four of the 47 Hong Kong dissidents accused of subversion were hospitalized on Tuesday as a result of the exhaustion caused by the marathon preliminary hearing on their bail application.
The hearing began on Monday at 11 am and continued until nearly 3 pm on Tuesday, after one of the accused – charged under the controversial national security law – Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, fainted during the proceedings, according to local media reports.
The woman lost consciousness for a few seconds around 1.45 am on Tuesday and soon after the rest of the proceedings were suspended until 11.30 am.
Clarisse Yeung said in a post on her Facebook profile that she suddenly started sweating after entering the courtroom on Monday night, and subsequently felt dizzy, heard a ringing noise and collapsed afterwards.
At least three other accused, Mike Lam, Leung Kwok-Hung and Roy Tam were also hospitalized, while the rest spent the night at the Lai Chi Kok detention center.
After the hearing resumed, the bail petitions of 27 of the 47 accused, who include 39 men and 8 women aged between 23 and 64 years, were yet to be heard.
By 7.30 pm, the West Kowloon court had processed a total of 31 petitions.
Local media reported that the prosecutors urged the court to extend the custody for at least three more months for police investigations, and did not specify when the probe will end.
Meanwhile the defense called the process “draconian” and expressed concern that their clients could spend years under preventive arrest before their trials start.
The 47 dissidents were among 55 people rounded up on January 6 and 7 by police in a mass arrest operation that sent shockwaves through Hong Kong. They were alleged to have attempted to paralyze the government through their involvement in the primaries held in July 2020.
The unofficial poll, an “evil plot” according to the Hong Kong authorities, was meant to maximize the chance of the pro-democracy camp gaining a majority at the Legislative Council election, originally scheduled for September 2020 but later postponed by a year due to Covid-19 concerns. More than 610,000 Hongkongers cast their ballots in the poll.
The prosecutors allege that the accused have violated the controversial national security law, designed and imposed by Beijing on Jun. 30, which carries severe punishments including life sentence for charges of subversion and colluding with foreign powers.
The prosecution has also urged the court to reject bail as the crimes are “very serious” in nature and have caused “irreversible and irreparable” harm, while claiming that the defendants were a flight-risk.
The 47, who belong to different factions within the pro-democracy camp, include veteran activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, outspoken legal scholar Benny Tai, former Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, Civic Party founding member Claudia Mo, localist Fergus Leung, Jimmy Sham of the prominent activist group Civil Human Rights Front, and young activist Joshua Wong, who is currently serving a 13.5-month sentence in prison for other charges.
On Monday, hundreds of people gathered outside the West Kowloon court to protest and express support for the dissidents.
Hong Kong police said on Tuesday that 42 people have been fined HK$ 5,000 (around $650) each for violating Covid-related distancing norms and not wearing masks during the protest outside the court. EFE-EPA