Court demands more proof to back up terrorism claim

The High Court said on Thursday that the prosecution’s interpretation of a “terrorist act” is too wide when it comes to the case against the first person charged under Hong Kong’s national security law.

A day after the law came into effect last summer, Tong Ying-kit allegedly drove his motorbike into a crowd of police officers while flying a flag that read “Liberate Hong Kong”.

In a case-management hearing ahead of his trial, prosecutors suggested that under the terrorism charge, there was no need to prove that Tong had intended to cause grave harm to society.

The prosecution said it would be enough to prove that Tong had committed one of the terrorist activities listed in the law, such as using serious violence in an attempt to coerce the government or intimidate the public in pursuit of a political agenda.

But a panel of three judges disagreed.

They said the prosecution would also have to prove that Tong had harmed the community with his actions, or had intended to, saying otherwise the scope of the national security law would be too wide.

Justice Anthea Pang said if the prosecution’s interpretation was adopted, then all wounding cases could violate the security law.

The judges, meanwhile, agreed with the prosecution that the use of violence was not a necessary element in the separate charge of secession that Tong is facing.

But the judges asked the prosecution to set out the effect of Tong’s alleged acts of “incitement”, and how this alleged incitement of others amounted to secession.

The Department of Justice has decided against using a jury for the 15-day trial that is expected to begin on June 23.

It is not yet known whether the trial will be open to the public.