The High Court heard on Monday that six former editors of the now-defunct Apple Daily intend to plead guilty to national security charges while the other defendants – the newspaper's founder, Jimmy Lai, and three corporations – indicated they would plead not guilty.
This was revealed at a case management hearing before a panel of three judges.
A reporting ban on the hearing was lifted by Justice Esther Toh.
Prosecutor Anthony Chau told the court that the six former Apple Daily editors – Cheung Kim-hung, Ryan Law, Chan Pui-man, Yeung Ching-kee, Fung Wai-kong and Lam Man-chung – earlier indicated they would plead guilty to conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.
The defendants are accused of calling on foreign countries or external forces to impose sanctions or blockages, or engage in hostile activities against Hong Kong and China, between July 1, 2020 and April 3, 2021. They are being remanded in custody.
At the hearing on Monday, the parties tried to arrange for the trial to start as early as December but failed to reach agreement.
Another hearing will be held to try to fix a trial date.
Justice Toh stressed the highest priority is to handle the case expeditiously. The trial is expected to last 30 days.