Localist activist Edward Leung has been cleared of a second rioting charge over his involvement in the 2016 Mong Kok unrest. It came after he was convicted last year of another rioting charge relating to the same evening.

The jury arrived at their 7:2 not guilty verdict after five days of deliberation. During the lengthy discussions, jurors posed multiple questions to the judge regarding the meaning of words such as “intent,” “joint enterprise” and “encouragement.”

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.

Edward Leung
Edward Leung. File Photo: Citizen News.

He was prosecuted over his involvement in the unrest which took place during Lunar New Year in 2016, and was triggered by the authorities’ attempts to clear Mong Kok street hawkers. Leung will now return to prison.

Leung faced two rioting charges at the time, but the jury failed to return a valid verdict for one of them, leading the Department of Justice to apply for a retrial. Judge Albert Wong reminded jurors on Monday that they needed to reach at least a 7-2 majority for the verdict to be valid.

After the verdict was announced, Leung flashed a smile from the dock, and later waved to his supporters in the courtroom as he was led away.

Despite his acquittal, Leung still returned to prison to serve his sentence for the other rioting charge. His lawyer David Ma said that the verdict took a weight off Leung’s mind.

Other defendants

Leung’s retrial was also combined with the cases of Lee Nok-man, Lam Ngo-him and Yung Wai-ip. The cases of Lee and Lam were also retrials, since the jury failed to return a valid verdict last May on the rioting charge they each faced.

On Friday, the jury cleared them both.

Lee Nok-man Lam Ngo-hin
From left: Lee Nok-man and Lam Ngo-hin. File Photo: Citizen News.

The pair broke into tears soon after hearing the judgment. Lee said that he did not want to comment on the specifics of the case, but was happy with the result.

“My brain was blank when I heard the verdict,” Lam told reporters. “I didn’t really try to guess what the verdict would be.”

‘Captain America’

Yung Wai-ip, also known by his nickname “Captain America,” was convicted three charges: one count of assaulting a police officer, one count of rioting at Shantung Street, and one count of rioting at Fa Yuen Street.

However, he was cleared of two other rioting charges, as well as a charge of inciting persons on Portland Street to take part in an unlawful assembly.

The jury failed to arrive at a valid verdict on an unlawful assembly charge facing Yung. When asked whether there will be a retrial for that charge, the prosecution’s lead lawyer Eric Kwok said it was not up to him.

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

Meanwhile, Yung’s defence lawyer Douglas Kwok said that the prosecution would have to make the first move.

Douglas Kwok added that his team “needed some time to digest what happened today,” and could not immediately say if they will appeal Yung’s convictions.

Yung’s bail was revoked and he was remanded in custody. The court will hear arguments on his sentencing on April 4.

The case also involved a fourth co-defendant, Yuen Chi-kui, who pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to two rioting charges and one arson charge. He will be sentenced along with Yung.

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.