The Hong Kong High Court denied a jury trial for the first person ever charged under the city's new national security law.
The ruling Thursday is Hong Kong's first official departure from its common law traditions.
Tong Ying-Kit was arrested by Hong Kong police during a July 1 protest. Police said Tong had resisted arrest and rammed several officers with his motorbike while driving down a narrow street.
Tong's arrest coincided with the official implementation of the national security law. Under the law, authorities can rightly arrest people they deem to be involved in illegal activities such as secession, terrorism, separatism and collusion. Depending on the severity of the offense, those that are arrested and charged could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The 24-year-old Hong Kong resident was one of more than 300 demonstrators arrested during that day. Tong was charged with inciting separatism and terrorism. Tong has repeatedly been denied bail, another departure from the city's common law.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng told Tong's legal team earlier in the year that his trial would be heard by three judges appointed for national security cases instead of a jury. Tong's legal team filed an appeal for a review of the decision not long after.
Judge Alex Lee at the High Court submitted a decision Thursday, stating that there was "nothing inherently unreasonably" in holding the trial with judges instead of a jury. The judge also cited the personal safety of the jurors and their families as part of his decision to deny the appeal.
Tong's trial is expected to be held June 23.
Those opposed to the national security law argue that trial by jury gives defendants additional protection against authorities abusing their power. The type of trial is considered to be an important feature in the city's legal system.
Under Article 46 of the national security law, which was partially drafted by the Chinese government, trial by jury may be discarded under three instances. These are cases that involve protecting state secrets, those involving foreign forces, and in cases where the lives and safety of the jurors are at risk.