Six of the eight Hong Kong young people released from a mainland prison and handed over to the SAR authorities this week have refused lawyers appointed for them by their families, according to a concern group.
The Save 12 Hong Kong Youths Concern Group said on social media on Thursday that six of the men would not see the lawyers sent to assist them as they were held in police stations following their return on Monday.
"They were without legal representation when their cases were brought to court for mention on March 23 and 24. Neither were their families informed of the hearings in advance," the group said.
Lawyers hired by the relatives had also been denied access to the group while they were being detained in Shenzhen, following an alleged failed bid to flee from Hong Kong to Taiwan by speedboat.
Chow Hang-tung, a lawyer helping the relatives, told RTHK that they do not know why the six rejected the lawyers in Hong Kong.
“There will always be people that do not want a lawyer, but for all six of them to do this at the same time is very odd,” said Chow, who is also part of the concern group.
Chow said the case against the returnees has been adjourned until they have completed quarantine and can appear in court.
“So hopefully by then, the lawyers can have already met with them and can represent them,” she said. “But we are not sure yet, at this stage.”
“So we have to see what happens after the quarantine ends.”
The concern group said seven of the eight returnees are being held in the Lai Chi Kok and Pik Uk correctional institutions.
Chow said their families should definitely be allowed to meet them once their quarantine period ends.
“They are just being remanded,” she said. “They should not be secreted away; they have every right to see their families.”