A 33-year-old man was sentenced to over three-and-a-half years in prison on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to rioting and violating the anti-mask law at a protest in Wan Chai in 2019.

Derek Chan, a kitchen manager, appeared in District Court in front of Judge Lily Wong on Thursday. He pleaded guilty to taking part in a riot in October 6, 2019, a day after the enactment of the controversial law.

October 20 anti-mask Guy Fawkes protest Tsim Sha Tsui
Photo: May James/HKFP.

The emergency law was passed during the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests to ban the wearing of face coverings.

Chan was filmed picking up a brick at the protest in Wan Chai while wearing a gas mask. His lawyer told the court earlier he had been swayed by the atmosphere at the scene and acted on impulse.

Chan was supposed to go to Ocean Park with a friend that day but their bus stopped near Causeway Bay due to the rally in the area. He then decided to take part in the protest, and at one point was standing at the front among a group holding umbrellas.

Protesters were said to have thrown at least 14 Molotov cocktails and bricks at police and to have dug up the road surface with a road breaker vehicle.

District Court
District Court. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Passing sentence on Thursday, Wong said Hong Kong, as a peaceful city with the rule of law, would not tolerate these incidents.

The judge said sentences passed on others at the scene, with a starting point of 39 months, were not relevant since Wong was “active” and had a “clearer role.” Chan also could not receive a full one-third deduction for pleading guilty as he had not done so as soon as he was able to.

The judge sentenced Chan to a total of 43 months.

After the sentence was passed, spectators in the public gallery waved to Chan, who asked them to “take care of my mum.”

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.