A court has convicted seven people of rioting in Jordon in November 2019, when the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) campus was transformed into a brutal battlefield between the police and protesters. One defendant was acquitted of the rioting charge.

Cheung Wing-sheung, Lam Chin-ching, Liu Hong-Leung, Lee Ping-lok, Auman Yick, Li Ka-vi, Chu Wai-hung, and Poon Wing-kit appeared in front of District Court Judge Ernest Lin on Wednesday.

Jordan. Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

All eight defendants faced the rioting charge, while Liu faced one count of “possession of offensive weapons or other instruments fit for unlawful purposes” and Lee was charged with one count of “prohibition of offensive weapons at public meetings and processions.”

During Wednesday’s proceedings, which began an hour later than scheduled, judge Lin convicted all defendants but Chu.

The incident took place on November 18 during the siege of PolyU in Hung Hom, at the height of the 2019 protests. The siege saw protesters and riot police clash in a tense stand-off that lasted nearly two weeks and made headlines worldwide.

Thousands of young protesters, some under 18, barricaded themselves within the university’s walls, which were surrounded by police at all exits.

Geneva Convention ‘irrelevant’

During the trial, Chu testified that he carried first-aid products with him as he was certified and had been a member of the Civil Aid Service sine 2017. The defendant said that he went to Mong Kok on the day of the incident with the aim of providing first-aid services.

District Judge Ernest Lin. File photo: Judiciary.

Lin said that there was no other evidence to suggest that Chu had committed any violent acts or encouraged other people to take part in the riot.

While he acquitted Chu of rioting, Lin rejected Chu’s lawyer’s reference to the Geneva Convention, which states that medical acts carried out by medical personnel should be exempted from punishment based on humanitarian grounds.

Chu’s lawyer admitted that the incident in question was not an international conflict, and therefore the issue of the neutrality of medical personnel was “completely irrelevant” to the matter at hand, Lin wrote in his judgement.

“I do not agree that a person who intended to help those in distress at the scene of a riot can use their kindness as a reason to ask the court for impunity under the common law, to rule that [they] did not have the intention to or commit acts to take part in a riot,” Lin wrote.

Criticism against police unrelated

During the trial, the police were accused of abusing their use of force when arresting some of the defendants.

District Court. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Lin said that there was no “direct relation” between the defence’s criticisms and the matter at hand, unless the incompatibility between defence’s claims and other evidence was sufficient to influence the court’s view on the credibility of the witnesses.

“I did not undergo disciplined services training, let alone experience of law enforcement, therefore [I] do not have the qualification, ability nor need to rule whether the decisions made by police that day were accurate or whether the means they used were appropriate for the environment then,” Lin wrote.

The case will be heard again on October 28 for sentencing.

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Candice Chau

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.