A non-jury trial has been ordered for the national security case involving Jimmy Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper and Next Digital media company.
According to a report by Oriental Daily on Wednesday, there will be a case management hearing for Lai and three companies related to Apple Daily on the coming Monday for 60 minutes.
The hearing will be heard by three designated national security law judges, namely Esther Toh, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios and Alex Lee.
The daily added that it understood that there will not be a jury for the case.
Lai and the three companies have been charged with multiple counts of collusion with external elements to endanger national security, and printing, publishing, selling, offering for sale, distributing, displaying or reproducing seditious publication.
According to Article 46 of the National Security Law, in criminal proceedings in the Court of First Instance of the High Court concerning offenses endangering national security, the secretary for justice may issue a certificate directing that the case shall be tried without a jury on the grounds of, among others, the protection of state secrets, the involvement of foreign factors in the case, and the protection of the personal safety of jurors and their family members.
Where the secretary for justice has issued the certificate, the case shall be tried in the Court of First Instance without a jury and by a panel of three judges.
This comes after reports on Tuesday revealed that justice minister Paul Lam has ordered a non-jury trial for 47 pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers who have been charged with conspiracy to commit subversion for organizing an unofficial primary election among democrats two years ago.
It is the city’s largest national security case to date and the second national security case to be trialed without a jury in Hong Kong.
Trial by jury has been practiced in Hong Kong for 177 years and has been described as one of the most important features of the city’s legal system.