A 23-year old woman and a 20-year-old man have been acquitted of charges related to protests that occurred in Wong Tai Sin and Causeway Bay respectively in 2019.

Summons against a 62-year-old man have also been dismissed, after the prosecution declined to submit evidence for the case.

acquitted protester causeway bay aug 31
Yip Kwan-sing was acquitted.

Cheung Ka-ying, a 23-year-old female student was charged with arson and obstruction of public places, to which she had pled not guilty. A magistrate at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court determined that the case rested upon whether the prosecution could identify the defendant relying on a police witness’s statement, as no photo nor video captured the incident, the Stand News reported.

The magistrate, however, questioned the reliability of a police witness. The officer said they could not remember if the defendant was wearing a mask, despite claiming that they first saw her from a police vehicle, pursued and arrested her.

september 29 sogo causeway bay protest (2)
File Photo: May James/HKFP.

Cheung was accused of starting a fire near a roundabout at Choi Hung Estate in Wong Tai Sin in November 2019 and leaving a plastic roadblock to obstruct the traffic there. The police witness said they saw trash burning by the time they arrived, but did not see if the defendant had set fire to it, and no flammable substance nor evidence of combustion was found on her.

The magistrate acquitted the defendant from the two charges, as there was no direct evidence proving she had set fire to objects and the police witness’s statement failed to prove such conclusion.

YouTuber acquitted

In another case related to protests that occurred near Sogo department store in Causeway Bay on August 31, 2019, a 20-year-old male YouTube personality Yip Kwan-sing was acquitted of one count of rioting. He was accused of participating in a riot with other unidentified individuals who threw Molotov cocktails at the police, Apple Daily reported.

kowloon city magistrates' court
Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court. Photo: Google Maps.

The prosecution alleged that the defendant was among four individuals sporting helmets and gas masks, two of whom hurled Molotov cocktails at a police witness. However, the Magistrate said video evidence as well as a statement by another police witness were not able to corroborate the claim that the defendant threw Molotovs.

Yip was acquitted from rioting as evidence submitted by the prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he participated in actions he was accused of, even though he was present at the time.

In a third case, a 62-year-old man, Lee Kai-sun, who played a protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” with an erhu in Yuen Long last May, was handed a penalty ticket by the police for playing musical instruments in a public street without a permit. The man was then issued a summons to appear in court.

Prosecutors told a magistrate at the start of the hearing that they would not submit evidence. The summons was therefore dismissed and the defendant was acquitted.

Lee had previously said that a passer-by shouted at him as he was playing the song near a Yuen Long MTR station exit, before police officers came over to warn him that he was going to be fined.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.