Trial of first national security suspect begins today

The trial for the city’s first national security suspect takes place at the High Court on Wednesday. The case has focused attention on the controversial security laws, which critics say curtail individual rights and freedom of speech.

Tong Ying-kit, 24, is charged with terrorism and inciting secession for allegedly driving his motorbike into a group of police officers, while flying a protest flag that read “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” on July 1 last year, one day after the security legislation came into effect.

Tong also faces an alternative charge to that of terrorism – causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving.

He’s been held in custody for almost a year, with the court repeatedly denying him bail and rejecting his lawyers’ application for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the legality of his detention.

In February, the Secretary for Justice, Teresa Cheng, told the defence team that Tong would have to be tried without a jury, citing concerns for the “personal safety” of jurors and their family members under the national security law. Instead, his case would be heard by a panel of three national security judges.

Tong’s trial is expected to last 15 days, and more than a dozen witnesses are expected to testify.