A Hong Kong court has convicted a man of rioting and common assault in connection with the siege of the Wan Chai police headquarters – a key moment last June during the anti-extradition bill protests.
Construction worker Shum Hiu-lun, 26, became the first person to be convicted of rioting in relation to last year’s large-scale unrest after pleading not guilty. His conviction was delivered by Judge Anthony Kwok at the District Court on Thursday. He said Shum’s behaviour “completely fulfilled” the elements listed in the rioting offence under the Public Order Ordinance.
Shum was accused of taking part in a riot outside the police headquarters on June 26, 2019, when over a thousand protesters occupied roads and blocked entrances to the building with steel barriers, traffic cones and road signs. Some also threw eggs at the facade.
According to the judgement, CCTV footage and internet videos placed Shum at the scene. The prosecution said Shum punched and kicked an officer – Cheung Kam-fuk – that night, who was previously followed and surrounded by another group of protesters while he was on his way to work. Cheung was in plainclothes and did not wear a warrant card. The officer told the court that his canker sores “burst” after taking a hit from Shum, and he was in pain for a week.
The construction worker denied the rioting charge, but admitted he had participated in an unlawful assembly as he helped protesters move steel barriers and other objects to block the vehicle access gate. The defence argued that Shum was not aware that Cheung was an officer and was unaware that other demonstrators had chased after him. Therefore, he did not have a “common purpose” shared with other “rioters.”
Shum also defended his acts by saying that he approached Cheung because he saw him pushing a female protester. He said he wanted to stop Cheung from attacking other people. But judge Kwok disagreed, saying Shum’s use of force to strike the officer twice and kick him once was “absolutely illegal.”
“He obviously had the intention to attack the prosecution’s first witness… rather than saying the defendant was trying to ‘subdue’ [Cheung], the court deems he obviously went after the witness for revenge,” Kwok wrote.
Kwok said that while “radical protesters” were dispersed across different locations, they had a common purpose to surround the police headquarters, with an intention to conduct acts that would constitute the unlawful assembly offence. He said the court could not isolate Shum’s actions as an independent incident, and had to take into account the large-scale siege that night.
Whether Shum had participated in an “extension” of a riot near Harcourt Road, or individually initiated an attack that turned the unlawful assembly into a riot would, in either case, fulfil the elements of rioting, Kwok said: “From whichever angle, the defendant has committed the rioting offence.”
Shum faced a separate charge of assault causing bodily harm, but the court said Cheung was not certain that his canker sores “burst immediately” after the defendant’s strike. However, the court deemed the injury severe, hence Shum was found guilty of common assault instead.
The construction worker will remain in custody pending a sentencing hearing on September 25.