The District Court sentenced an activist on Monday to four years and nine months in jail for rioting and arson during protests that erupted in Mong Kok last February.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on said that the level of violence during the protests was so serious that a deterrent sentence was necessary in order to maintain peace and order in the city.

Yeung Ka-lun
Yeung Ka-lun.

Technician Yeung Ka-lun, 32, was convicted last week of participating in a riot and setting fire to a taxi in Mong Kok on February 9 last year. He was handed a jail term of four years and nine months for rioting, and four years and three months for arson – both served concurrently.

“The defendant is unfortunate – he might have been aware of the legal consequences before committing the crime, but he might not have known that the consequences would be so heavy,” Judge Kwok said, according to Apple Daily.

Yeung was sent to prison after the sentencing hearing.

During the trial, Yeung denied that he was the person shown in photographs and news footage taken on the night in question, which the prosecutor said showed Yeung starting a fire next to a taxi.

Yeung’s former employer also testified that Yeung was the person shown in the pictures.

Judge Kwok held that Yeung was the person photographed. He said the person shared the same facial features as Yeung, such as an overbite, small eyes and slim face. The only difference between Yeung and that person is that Yeung did not wear glasses, RTHK reported at the time.

mong kok fehd riot protest
Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

Earlier convictions

This is the fourth rioting conviction in relation to the clashes. Three activists were convicted of rioting last month by the District Court and were each handed a three-year jail term. Judge Sham Siu-man said rioting necessitated a deterrent sentence.

They have since appealed against their convictions and sentences.

The violent clashes broke out last year on the night of February 9 – Lunar New Year – over efforts by the authorities to clear street hawkers. Around 90 people have been arrested so far in relation to the incident.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.