Two protesters have been jailed for rioting during last February’s clashes in Mong Kok. A third was handed a training centre order by the District Court on Monday.

Chris Yung Tsz-hin, 19, Law Ho-yin, 21, and Lin Yun-faat, 26, were remanded in custody following their convictions on July 17. Two others, including a citizen journalist, were acquitted at the same trial.

district court
District Court. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

In handing down a guilty verdict, Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che found that Yung and Law wore the same clothing during their arrest as two who were filmed holding two glass bottles near the front of a crowd during the event. Yiu also held that Lin, filmed amongst a crowd involved in a standoff, was participating in a riot.

On Monday afternoon, counsel for Lin submitted 29 letters of mitigation to the court, saying that the defendant’s teachers had a very high opinion of him.

The lawyer also said that a two-year sentence would suffice, citing the jail term for a leader of the 1967 riots – which involved homemade bombs. He argued that – in comparison – the unrest in Mong Kok had only involved the throwing of bricks.

The violent protests took place on the night of February 9 last year – Lunar New Year – over efforts by the authorities to clear street hawkers in Mong Kok.

Training centre order

Reports submitted to the court recommended a training centre order for 19-year-old Yung, but said it was inappropriate for Law given he was older. Whilst Yung was granted the training centre order, Law and Lin were sentenced to three years in prison.

In April, the District Court sentenced a 32-year-old to four years and nine months in jail for rioting and arson, while the first rioting convictions in March saw three others handed a three-year jail term in what the judge said was a deterrent sentence.

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

In a separate trial related to the clashes, defendant Ng Ting-kai, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of rioting in June, while 10 others are currently facing a joint trial on various charges of rioting, criminal damage or assault. Amongst them, Mo Jia-tao, 18, pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer, but denied three other charges of rioting and a charge of criminal damage.

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

YouTube video

Rioting carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment under the Public Order Ordinance. However, the District Court is only allowed to hand down sentences with a maximum length of seven years.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.