The first three people convicted of rioting during last year’s Mong Kok clashes have each been sentenced to three years in prison.
Chef Sit Tat-wing, 33, and students Hui Ka-ki, 23 and Mak Tsz-hei, 20, were convicted by the District Court on Thursday.
Judge Sham Siu-man held that rioting necessitated a deterrent sentence, in order to show that there was a price to pay for participation.
He said he decided on a three-year sentence after considering the defendants’ lack of criminal records, their mitigation pleas and their roles in the clashes.
Should not have run
Earlier, Judge Sham had rejected defendants 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, 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.
Judge Sham accepted the testimonies of police officers alleging that the defendants threw bottles or bamboo sticks at officers. He added that even if the defendants did not throw objects at police officers, there was sufficient evidence showing that they participated in the riot.
The violent clashes broke out last year 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.
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.