Nine protesters have been found guilty of rioting over their participation in the Mong Kok unrest, which took place in February 2016.

A court on Wednesday handed down a 382-page judgment and convicted all nine defendants on rioting charges.

They included Mo Jia-tao, Chung Chi-wah, Anthony Ho Kam-sum, Fok Ting-ho, Chan Wo-cheung, Tang King-chung, Li Cheuk-hin, Lam Wing-wong, and Yep Chi-fung.

West Kowloon Magistrates Courts. File photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

A tenth defendant, Ng Ting-kai, earlier pleaded guilty to rioting, while the last – Lee Sin-yi – did not turn up to the trial, having reportedly fled to Taiwan last year.

In addition to rioting, Mo Jia-tao also admitted to one count of police assault and was found guilty of criminal damage, while Chan Wo-cheung was acquitted of assaulting police.

The protests took place over Chinese New Year in 2016, triggered by authorities’ attempts to clear street hawkers in Mong Kok. Demonstrators clashed with the police, hurling bricks and destroying a police vehicle, the court heard. An officer also fired shots into the air during the clashes.

The defendants have been remanded in custody awaiting sentencing on May 23.

Although the case is under the jurisdiction of the District Court, it was heard in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court owing to the large number of defendants and the extensive use of video evidence. But the rules relating to the District Court still applied, and the defendants face up to seven years in jail if convicted of rioting charges.

Police at the Mong Kok protest. File Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

In a separate trial in the High Court over the events, localist Edward Leung and several others are also facing trial for rioting charges. The prosecution made its closing speech on Wednesday. As there is no limit on the sentence duration the Court of First Instance could impose, they face up to a decade behind bars if convicted.

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.