Hong Kong’s District Court has sentenced a 22-year-old student to 40 months in prison for two charges of rioting during the storming of Prince Edward station on August 31, 2019.
Wednesday’s ruling is the first rioting conviction related to the controversial incident where baton-wielding police stormed the station after hours of protest clashes.
The student of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts (HKAPA), whose surname is Wan, had pleaded guilty to the two charges, according to StandNews.
Police accused him of damaging station property and threatening passers-by with a cane. He was 19-years-old at the time of the incident.
Wan’s counsel pleaded for a light sentence, saying he regretted the incident and apologised for his behaviour.
The defence counsel also pleaded that Wan may not be able to suspend his place at HKAPA again. Losing his education was already the greatest punishment, StandNews reported his lawyer as saying.
In his decision, Justice Douglas Yau said that Wan played an “active role” and “wantonly vandalised” the station’s control room, disturbing public peace.
Yau described Wan as a “frontline offender.” He considered Wan’s guilty plea and the starting point of four years imprisonment for rioting convictions before handing down a 40-month sentence.
Rioting carries a maximum sentence of 10 years under the Public Order Ordinance.
On August 31, 2019, baton-wielding riot police stormed Prince Edward MTR station following hours of protest clashes in the area. Officers were filmed pepper-spraying people in carriages as they drove away reporters and medics.
Discrepancies in official records of injuries and the closure of the station fuelled unverified rumours of civilian deaths. The police watchdog largely cleared the Force of wrongdoing but faced criticism for lacking independence and investigatory powers. The incident sparked mistrust between protesters and police. No police officer has faced any charges in relation to the 2019 protests.