A 19-year-old protester involved in the Mong Kok unrest in 2016 has been sentenced to over four years in prison for rioting. Others in the same case received up to four years while one defendant escaped a prison term.

Judge Kwok Wai-kin convicted nine defendants of rioting earlier this month. A tenth defendant, Ng Ting-kai, previously pleaded guilty to rioting, while the last – Lee Sin-yi – did not turn up to the trial, having reportedly fled to Taiwan last year.

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

The case was heard in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court due to the large number of defendants, but it is under the jurisdiction of the District Court, which can impose jail sentences of up to seven years.

The Mong Kok protests took place in February 2016, triggered by authorities’ attempts to clear street hawkers during Chinese New Year.

19-year-old Mo Jia-tao was sentenced to four years and three months behind bars for rioting, criminal damage and police assault. The defence counsel earlier asked Judge Kwok to spare Mo and hand down a training centre order instead, but the judge said the case concerned events of a serious nature where imprisonment may be appropriate.

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

Defendants Chung Chi-wah and Anthony Ho Kam-sum were each given 45-month jail sentences, while Fok Ting-ho was sentenced to 44 months behind bars. Defendant Chan Wo-cheung, 73, was handed a sentence of three years and five months.

Defendants Tang King-chung, Li Cheuk-hin and Lam Wing-wong received prison sentences of 42 months, 33 months and 44 months respectively.

Ng Ting-kai, who pleaded guilty, was given 28 months in jail, and Yep Chi-fung received a training centre order.

In a separate trial this month concerning the events in Mong Kok, a nine-person jury unanimously found localist Edward Leung guilty of one count of rioting but acquitted him of inciting a riot. Fellow protester Lo Kin-man was also convicted of rioting. Sentencing will take place next month.

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.