Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said on Friday morning that the unrest in Mong Kok on Monday was a “rare” case, and that the charges against the defendants were not politically motivated.
“There are absolutely no political considerations. I do not wish to see people use [the term] ‘political considerations’ as a cover-up for illegal activities,” Yuen said. “I wanted to emphasise that this incident is a challenge to Hong Kong’s law and order.”
He said that Department of Justice bases the charges on evidence only and decisions regarding whether to charge the defendants with rioting, or to add other charges, will be dealt with in courts.
A total of 36 people were charged with rioting under section 19(2) of the Public Order Ordinance, while one had the charge changed to unlawful assembly after a review of the evidence. The case has been adjourned to April 7, with the defendants prohibited from entering Mong Kok.
They were earlier arrested for taking part in Monday’s clashes, which unfolded amid the government’s clearing of street hawkers.