A magistrate has questioned whether it is lawful to continue pursuing the national security law case against the group behind Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Square vigil given its recent disbandment, likening the situation to prosecuting a dead person. Acting chief magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen on Thursday expressed doubts about the current legal status of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor ordered it be struck from the city’s Companies Registry on Tuesday. The organisation – along with its chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, and vice-chairs Albert Ho Chun-yan and Chow Hang-tung – was charged last month with inciting subversion, punishable by up to 10 years in jail under the Beijing-imposed security law. The body could face a fine and compulsory closure if convicted after trial. Hong Kong leader orders removal of Tiananmen vigil alliance from Companies Registry The defendants stand accused of inciting others to “organise, plan, commit or participate in acts by unlawful means with a view to subverting the state power”. They were also alleged to have advocated “overthrowing or undermining the basic system of the People’s Republic of China”, and “overthrowing the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China”. Speaking in West Kowloon Court on Thursday, prosecutor Karen Ng Ka-yuet suggested the alliance could be represented by the Official Receiver’s Office – which serves as a trustee and liquidator in insolvency cases – for the remaining criminal procedures. However, the office needed time to consider whether it was appropriate for it to take over the case, she noted. Former alliance secretary Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, who was appointed its liquidator even before the order to strike the group from the Companies Registry this week, said the group’s interests would be seriously undermined if a public body was appointed to act on its behalf, adding that the court must clarify whether the prosecution should be allowed to proceed. Law, the magistrate, acknowledged Tsoi’s concerns and admitted he had never encountered such a problem in his years on the bench. “I am not sure whether such an analogy is proper, but [the alliance] is akin to a person who dies in the middle of a prosecution,” Law said. “The prosecution needs to sort out the legal status [of the alliance].” On Tuesday, the Executive Council, chaired by Lam, ordered the registrar of companies to remove the alliance pursuant to the Companies Ordinance. Lam and her political advisers made the move even though alliance members had already passed a motion to disband the group in September. Amnesty International to close Hong Kong offices over security law concerns Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu on Wednesday had insisted Exco’s decision to deregister the alliance would not affect the court proceedings. Law on Thursday designated Tsoi an interested party in the proceedings, and granted prosecutors’ request for a 10-week adjournment until January 10 to allow police to continue examining seized evidence, with Lee, Ho and Chow remaining in custody. Hong Kong authorities had banned the alliance from holding its annual June 4 candlelight vigil in Victoria Park for two years running, citing public health grounds amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The vigil had been the only large-scale commemoration of the 1989 crackdown on Chinese soil.