The Kowloon Magistrates’ Court has agreed to a prosecution request to drop riot charges against ten of the defendants involved in the protests that broke out in Mong Kok over the government’s clearing of street hawkers in February.
The ten defendants include a member of the now-defunct Scholarism organisation, Derek Lam Shun-hin, the University of Hong Kong publication editor Stephen Ku, and a 15 year-old whose identity cannot be revealed. A total of 43 defendants charged with rioting and unlawful assembly appeared before the court on Thursday morning.
The court heard that, although it was found by a police investigation that the defendants were present at the scene, there was insufficient evidence to indicate that they took part in an unlawful assembly or a riot, or engaged in activities that disrupted social order. The prosecution thus applied to drop the charges, RTHK reported.
Lam’s barrister, Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, successfully applied for Lam’s costs to be covered. Yeung said that Lam had been at the airport preparing to leave Hong Kong for Taiwan at the time of the arrest, and the money was to compensate for his loss. However, the application did not cover court fees, Ming Pao reported. The two sides must reach an agreement on the amount of monetary compensation within a month.
The cases concerning other defendants, such as Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous, have been adjourned to May 10. Leung has been granted bail of HK$5,000.
Ex-Scholarism leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Civic Passion member Alvin Cheng Kam-mun – who was recently arrested for posting a video showing himself binning and hiding library books with simplified characters – showed up in support of the defendants, Stand News reported.
Outside the court, various pro-government groups such as the Defend Hong Kong Campaign chanted slogans condemning protesters for throwing bricks at the police and voicing their opposition towards violence. Members in the different groups quarrelled over the hanging of protest banners and where to stand, Oriental Daily reported.
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