An activist pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of assaulting police officers during last February’s Mong Kok clashes.

Mo Jia-tao, 18, was accused of throwing a bottle at a police officer in the early hours of February 9. The item missed the target and hit a barricade, while other officers stepped in to restrain Mo, the court heard.

Mong Kok unrest. File photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Mo was also charged with three counts of rioting and one count of criminal damage. He denied these charges.

A total of 11 people have been charged with rioting, criminal damage or assaulting police officers. However, only 10 appeared before the court on Thursday. An arrest warrant was issued for the missing defendant, Lee Sin-yi, 18.

Besides Mo, eight other defendants also denied their charges. Counsel for the remaining defendant, Ng Ting-kai, 25, said they would be discussing their client’s two charges with the prosecution on Thursday afternoon.

Police gunshots

Counsel for defendant Tang King-chung, 29, requested that the prosecution summon the police officer who fired warning shots during the clashes. They wanted to examine whether the officer used excessive force in order to establish a case of self-defence, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Objecting to the request, the prosecution said the incident was irrelevant as Tang’s alleged offence took place at a different location and more than an hour after the shots were fired.

Judge Kwok Wai-kin said he would hear arguments from both parties before ruling on the matter.

Mong Kok unrest. File photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

Though the case has been transferred to the District Court, the hearing was relocated to a bigger room at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts owing to the large number of defendants and the extensive use of video evidence.

However, rules relating to the District Court remain applicable, including a maximum sentence of seven years in prison – compared to three years in magistracies. If convicted of rioting or criminal damage, the defendants face a maximum jail term of seven years.

The trial, beginning Thursday, is expected to last 30 days.

The full list of the 11 defendants include: Mo Jia-tao, 18; Lee Sin-yi, 18; Chung Chi-wah, 30; Anthony Ho Kam-sum, 37; Fok Ting-ho, 24; Chan Wo-cheung, 71; Tang King-chung, 29; Li Cheuk-hin, 20; Lam Wing-wong, 22; Yep Chi-fung, 18; and Ng Ting-kai, 25.

Ellie Ng

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