Police witnesses have identified a protester who allegedly assaulted officers during the 2016 Mong Kok unrest, claiming that he habitually dressed up as Captain America at demonstrations.

Yung Wai-ip, 34, is facing charges of assaulting police, unlawful assembly, incitement to unlawful assembly and four counts of rioting. He and three other protesters – localist Edward Leung, Vincent Lam and Lee Nok-man – are in the midst of a 70-day trial over the 2016 unrest.

A police sergeant surnamed Wong said on Tuesday that Yung was involved in the clashes, and had signalled to other protesters for help.

Yung Wai-ip. File photo: inmediahk.net.

The violent scenes in Mong Kok, which took place on the night of February 8, 2016 into the next day, were triggered by the authorities’ attempts to clear street hawkers over Lunar New Year.

Wong said he had seen Yung “over 10 times” at protests held in 2014 and 2015, and had learned from media reports that he was nicknamed “Captain America” owing to his costume. Wong added that, at a previous public event in Mong Kok, he had briefly conversed with Yung and was able to see him without his mask on.

“Yung… would hold up the British Hong Kong flag at public events, and stood at the frontlines,” Wong said. “He left a deep impression.”

Wong said that, during the clashes, Yung “walked quickly towards my direction, shouted for help at the back, and went back into the crowd.”

On Monday, police superintendent Hung Hin-kau said Yung had thrown objects at him. Like Wong, Hung said he was similarly able to identify Yung, because the nickname was widely reported and he had seen him at previous protests over 40 times.

File photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

During cross-examination, Yung’s lawyer cast doubt on Hung’s claim, saying that the officer had mentally associated Yung with what he read in the newspapers. There was also no written evidence that the superintendent had seen Yung over 40 times before.

In response, Hung said the man who assaulted him carried a prop shield, and Yung was one of the only people doing so. Hung had also recognised the protester from his face and build, he said.

Yung’s lawyer also questioned why the superintendent did not give a physical description of Yung during his oral testimony in 2016.

Mong Kok unrest trial

The High Court trial on Tuesday was the 48th day out of a lengthy 70-day trial. Aside from Yung, the court also heard the case against localist Edward Leung, Vincent Lam Ngo-hin and Lee Nok-man, who are facing one count of rioting each.

Edward Leung. File photo: inmediahk.net.

Last May, Leung was sentenced to six years in jail after pleading guilty to assaulting a police officer and being convicted of one charge of rioting.

However, the jury failed to return a valid verdict on the riot charges facing Leung, Lam and Lee. A jury of nine must reach a 7-2 majority or more for there to be a valid verdict.

The Department of Justice subsequently applied for a retrial over the charges in question, and combined their case with those of Yung and Yuen Chi-kui.

Since Yuen had pleaded guilty at the start of the trial last November, only Leung, Lam, Lee and Yung were involved in the proceedings.

Their trial continues on Wednesday.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.