Two Hong Kong teenagers who were on trial for alleged murder over the death of an elderly man during a protest clash in 2019 have had their charge lessened to manslaughter. The High Court ruled that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to hold them liable for murder, local media reported.

High Court. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Kelvin Lau, 19, and Chan Yin-ting, 18, appeared in front of Judge Esther Toh and a seven-person jury on Monday morning. Both stood accused of murder, wounding with intent and rioting. They had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

After considering the evidence submitted by the prosecution, Toh said she believed that there was not enough to prove the murder offence, thus ruling the charge be replaced with manslaughter.

Toh also reportedly told the jury that while it was in charge of determining the facts of the case, the judge was responsible for ruling on legal matters.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday to allow the prosecution to amend the charges and submit them to court.

Luo Chang-qing, 70, lying on the street after having received a blow to the head on November 13, 2019. Photo: internet.

According to Toh, Lau will not testify in court or call for any witnesses, while Chan planned to summon his psychiatrist.

Sheung Shui clash

Luo Chang-qing, 70, died on November 14, 2019, the day after receiving a blow to the head during a clash between pro-democracy and pro-government protesters in Sheung Shui.

The incident occurred when Hong Kong was in the grip of protests sparked by a proposed controversial amendment to the city’s extradition bill, when fights sometimes broke out between rival protesters. Footage appeared to show two groups hurling rocks at each other in Sheung Shui.

Esther Toh. File photo: Judiciary.

According to the government, Luo was an outsourced worker for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department who was on his lunch break.

Lau and Chan were both arrested one month after the incident and have been in custody since.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.