All 37 defendants who appeared in court on Thursday charged with taking part in Monday’s protests have been granted bail. The case has been adjourned to April 7, and in the meantime the defendants are not allowed to step foot in Mong Kok, where the scenes of unrest took place.
The defendants appeared before the Kowloon City Magistrate’s Court. A total of 36 people were charged with rioting under section 19(2) of the Public Order Ordinance, while one had their charge changed to unlawful assembly after a review of the evidence. They were earlier arrested for taking part in Monday’s clashes, which unfolded amid the government’s clearing of street hawkers.
Both the courtroom and the outside of the court building were packed with reporters and supporters of the protesters. Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong, Civic Passion’s Cheng Chung-tai and University of Hong Kong Student Union President Billy Fung were seen in the crowd.
The prosecution said that they did not object to bail, but asked the court to ban the defendants from entering certain parts of Mong Kok, including Fa Yuen Street, Dundas Street and Shanghai Street, in order to prevent a similar incident from happening.
All the defendants were granted bail of between HK$500 and HK$20,000, Apple Daily reported. Among them was a member of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, Leung Tin-kei, who is a candidate in the upcoming Legislative Council New Territories East by-elections triggered by the resignation of Ronny Tong last year. He was granted bail of HK$5,000 and is not allowed to step foot in Mong Kok, Stand News reported.
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Another defendant was Stephen Ku, incoming editor-in-chief of University of Hong Kong publication Undergrad. He was awarded bail of HK$10,000 and is also banned from entering Mong Kok.
Several defendants complained through their lawyers of being beaten up by police.
One of the defendants, Lin Yun-fat, said that he was not allowed to sleep for 40 hours in police custody and that he was yelled at when he tried to rest. He also claimed the police had misled him into giving a confession under the guise of charging him with unlawful assembly.
Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen, however, questioned the connection between the complaints and the present proceedings and said that any grievances towards the police should be dealt with using procedures outside of the court.
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