A Hong Kong man has been sentenced to a detention centre after he was found guilty of taking part in an illegal assembly and violating an anti-mask law introduced during the 2019 protests.

Tam Ka-leung appeared in the District Court on Thursday before Deputy District Judge Colin Wong. The 21-year-old has been remanded in custody since he was convicted late last month.

"November 13" Central Hong Kong protest
Central, November 13. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Senior counsel Robert Pang, representing Tam, submitted a handwritten letter from his client to the court. He said Tam had learnt his lesson and was sorry for causing anxiety to his family.

Pang said two reports on Tam had been positive, and both recommended he be sent to a detention centre.

Prosecutors had said news clips and CCTV footage showed Tam throwing bricks and concealing his face during a protest in Central on November 13, 2019.

Reasons for sentencing

Judge Wong said the illegal assembly on that date was a serious case and the sentence had to service as a punishment and deterrent.

The judge sentenced Tam to a detention centre after he said he had to “balance between rehabilitation and punishment.” A sentence to a detention centre for a maximum 12 months is an alternative to a prison term for people aged between 14 and 24.

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

In his judgement published last month, the judge rejected Tam’s testimony that he was at the scene because he wanted to go to a doctor after spraining his waist. He also cited Facebook posts in rejecting the defendant’s claim that he was not interested in current affairs and was not aware a protest was taking place at the time.

The government used a colonial-era emergency law to ban facemasks after months of widespread protests against a proposed extradition bill broke out in 2019. While the High Court initially ruled the law to be unconstitutional, the Court of Final Appeal upheld the legislation in December two years ago.

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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.