Lawyers for pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi on Monday applied for proceedings against him to be halted, by challenging the legality of the colonial-era sedition law he is accused of violating.
The People Power activist is facing numerous charges for allegedly chanting seditious slogans, as well as other public order offences.
The defence argued that the sedition law has disproportionately restricted the freedom of expression, and is not consistent with the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights.
Lawyers also said that the definition of sedition is too vague, with concepts of hatred and contempt being subjective.
“The definitions of seditious intention ... are so general or vague that [the law] fails to inform what's safe to say or publish," said senior counsel Philip Dykes, who is representing Tam.
But prosecutors argued that challenges over whether the offence is constitutional or not are not valid grounds for halting proceedings.
They also said human rights protections in the Basic Law should be applied while taking into account other provisions in the mini-constitution, as well as the national security law.
And, as the offence in question can endanger national security, public interest clearly outweighs individual rights in this case, prosecutors said.
Tam’s lawyers, meanwhile, also said prosecutors should have listed the alleged remarks made by Tam in the charge sheet, adding that the judge can quash the charges if no such particulars are given.
But they told the District Court that Tam had decided not to lodge a judicial review against its earlier ruling that it has jurisdiction over the case.
Judge Stanley Chan adjourned the case and reserved his ruling to April 26.
Tam, who has been in custody since last September, appeared relaxed at the hearing, waving and making a V sign towards supporters at the courtroom – who gestured "five demands, not one less" in return.
The judge said the court is not a "playground" for people to wave their hands or utter political statements, saying those who shout slogans should do it outside court.
Last updated: 2021-04-19 HKT 16:44