Nine people have reversed course and pleaded guilty to rioting in September 2019, when Hong Kong was wracked with months-long protests and unrest. A further two defendants, however, have maintained their pleas of not guilty over their alleged involvement in a “global anti-totalitarianism” rally near Admiralty on September 29, 2019.

Fung Ka-man, Au Yeung Chi-kin, Ku Ka-wa, Lee Tak-hin, Cheung Hing-man, Chan Shue-fung, Yau Wai-to, Lam Ho-sang, Lam Yiu-chun, Tse Tat-chi and Chan Hoi-fung appeared at the District Court on Monday. All of them faced one count of rioting.

Anti-totalitarian protest in Admiralty on September 29, 2019. Photo: May James/HKFP

Fung and Chan Hoi-fung maintained their initial not-guilty pleas while the remaining nine , including an emergency room doctor and a surveyor, decided to plead guilty right before the official trial.

A twelfth defendant in the case pleaded guilty in September, according to the Witness.

‘Anti-totalitarianism’ march

The prosecution alleged that on that day, protesters organised an unauthorised “anti-totalitarianism” rally against China’s rule over Hong Kong, which started in Causeway Bay and headed towards the government headquarters near Admiralty, local media reported.

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked traffic along Harcourt Road, a major thoroughfare, in the afternoon, hurling petrol bombs and bricks at police and government infrastructure, the prosecution said. Police attempted to disperse the crowd with a water canon and tear gas.

Photo: May James/HKFP

During Monday’s hearing, the court heard of the defendants’ arrests. The prosecution said all the defendants were wearing dark-coloured clothing, while some were apprehended with protest gear, such as goggles, respirators and helmets. One was carrying a colonial-era Hong Kong flag, and several were described as having resisted officers while being subdued.

Remanded until mitigation

District Judge Cheang Kei-hong convicted the nine who pleaded guilty. Eight of them were remanded until their mitigation hearing on November 25. Academy of Performing Arts student Lam Yiu-chun was granted bail so that he could attend his graduation on Thursday. He was required to return to court the next day and have his bail revoked.

District judge Cheang Kei-hong. Photo: Judiciary.

The trial, meanwhile, will continue on Tuesday for the two defendants who pleaded not guilty. They were also granted bail.

Almost 100 people were charged over the anti-totalitarianism protest. They have been divided into several cases. Some of the trials have concluded, with defendants jailed up to five years for rioting, and younger ones sentenced to a training centre.

Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into the police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.” 

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.