Tam Tak-chi loses bid to get sedition trial scrapped thumbnail

Tam Tak-chi loses bid to get sedition trial scrapped

Pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi on Monday lost a legal fight to have prosecution proceedings against him halted.

The People Power activist is accused of chanting seditious slogans that incited hatred and contempt of the Hong Kong government, as well as committing other public order offences.

He has been remanded in custody since September last year, waiting for a trial that is set for May 10.

Tam’s lawyers had argued at the District Court that the sedition law is unconstitutional, saying it has disproportionately restricted the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights.

They also said the definition of “sedition” is too vague, with concepts of hatred and contempt being subjective.

But judge Stanley Chan said the courts should only exercise their discretion to halt proceedings under exceptional circumstances, such as when they find that a fair trial would be impossible.

Chan said the defence lawyers had failed to show that this would be the case for Tam.

He also agreed with the prosecution’s argument that the defence can only challenge the constitutionality of the law during the trial stage.

In addition, the judge rejected the defence’s request to have the charges against Tam quashed because they had not listed in the charge sheet the seditious remarks he is alleged to have made.

Tam’s lawyers had accused the prosecution of breaching an indictment rule by not providing these details, saying this had made it difficult for them to defend their client.

But Chan said the prosecution is not required to spell out every word the defendant is alleged to have uttered, as only essential information relating to the charges is needed.

He said it would not be practical for the prosecution to draft a lengthy charge sheet, adding that this might also lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

Sitting in the dock, Tam occasionally looked towards his supporters in the public gallery and nodded.

As he left the courtroom after the hearing, some of his supporters chanted “add oil” and “I love you”.