Three people were convicted of rioting by the District Court on Thursday – the first such charges related to last year’s unrest in Mong Kok.

The violent clashes broke out on the night of February 9 – Lunar New Year – over the government’s attempt to clear street hawkers. 90 people have been arrested so far in relation to the incident.

mong kok fehd riot protest
File photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

Cook Sit Tat-wing, 33, and students Hui Ka-ki, 23 and Mak Tsz-hei, 20, were charged with taking part in a riot near Soy Street in Mong Kok. They pleaded not guilty last February.

Participants not observers

Judge Sham Siu-man held that University of Hong Kong student Hui was a participant in rioting, because he believed she threw a glass bottle at police officers.

Judge Sham also rejected Mak and Sit’s defences that they had only been mere observers at the riot. He said that Sit should not have run away along with the crowd – which could have caused a stampede – if he did not want police to confuse him with a rioter.

He added that Sit should have stood by the shops or to the side.

He held that Mak had thrown a bamboo stick at police officers, and that Sit had hurled a glass bottle.

The three defendants were denied bail as the court heard their mitigation pleas on Thursday afternoon.

Mong Kok unrest clashes
The three defendants.

Under the Public Order Ordinance, rioting carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment. However, the District Court is only allowed to mete out sentences with a maximum length of seven years.

The first conviction for resisting and assaulting police in relation to last year’s unrest came in October, when localist group Civic Passion member Chan Pak-yeung was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. However, Thursday’s trio were the first to be convicted of the charge of rioting.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.