The campaigners have been accused of a conspiracy to commit subversion, after participating in an unofficial, non-binding primary election in 2020.
Government prosecutor Andy Lo had alleged the activists tried to cause an “acute crisis” and to paralyse government.
So far, 29 of the 47 have pleaded guilty, including legal scholar Benny Tai and activist Joshua Wong. Eighteen are pleading not guilty, including Gwyneth Ho, Owen Chow and Gordon Ng.
Despite the decision, some aspects of the proceedings, including bail hearings, will remain unreportable. Law also refused to clarify whether a preliminary inquiry initiated by Ng, to ascertain the strength of the prosecution’s case evidence before trial, would be reportable.
While the full trial date hasn’t been set, Hong Kong Justice Secretary Paul Lam has already ordered the case to be tried without a jury, citing a “real risk” that justice might be impaired, according to a document seen by Reuters. He also cited an unspecified “involvement of foreign factors” as a reason.
The trial will instead be heard by three judges designated by Hong Kong’s leader to handle national security cases.
“A hearing without a jury is unjust,” activist Owen Chow shouted at the end of the hearing on Thursday.