Five former Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) students have been convicted of rioting during intense clashes between protesters and the police in November 2019.

protesters clash police Chinese University of Hong Kong CUHK
Protesters take cover during clashes with police at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), in Hong Kong on November 12, 2019. File Photo: Citizen News.

Aged between 20 to 23, the five defendants were charged with one count of rioting and one count of using face covering during an illegal assembly, local media reported. They were convicted of both counts by deputy District Court judge Kathie Cheung on Friday. Two of the defendants were also convicted of possession of offensive weapons or tools for unlawful purposes.

Protesters and students attempted to paralyse the Tolo Highway by occupying an overpass at CUHK during the height of the 2019 anti-China extradition bill protests in November that year. As intense clashes with the police continued late into the night, police fired tear gas and projectiles as protesters hurled bricks and petrol bombs.

Petrol bombs

In her verdict, Cheung said the five were arrested shortly after anti-riot police began dispersing crowds, making it impossible to believe their testimony that they had arrived at the area shortly before, Citizen News reported. Their attire was also similar to what other protesters wore.

They were taken into custody to await their mitigation and sentencing hearing next month.

Case details submitted by the prosecution alleged that protesters had charged at police at least four times on the overpass at CUHK and threw petrol bombs at officers while using a yellow trash bin for cover. Police then began dispersing protesters nearby and arrested the five on the scene. They were found to be in possession of objects including gas masks, gloves, hammerhead and screw drivers.

The judge considered that the prosecution’s witness was reliable but not the submission by the first defendant, Stand News reported. The remaining four defendants did not make submissions.

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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.