Two people, including a minor, have been found guilty of rioting in Admiralty during the 2019 protests and unrest in Hong Kong.

Eight defendants – Tse Hiu-fung, Fung Ki, Tsang Hin-ka, Wong Yuk-cheung, Lau Yin-sheung, Yau Sin-yu, Fan yu, and a minor who was 14 at the time of the offence – appeared in front of Deputy District Judge Cheng Lim-chi at the District Court on Monday.

Photo: May James/HKFP

In Hong Kong, unless the court rules otherwise, the identities of defendants under the age of 16 are protected under anonymity orders.

Tse and the teenager were convicted of taking part in a riot near the government headquarters in Admiralty on September 29, 2019. At the time, Hong Kong was in the midst of sometimes-violent protests against an axed amendment to the city’s extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China.

The other six defendants, whose legal representative also gave mitigation submissions on Monday, pleaded guilty earlier.

In a judgement published on Monday, Cheng said that he accepted the testimonies of a government forensic chemist and a police officer who said that Tse had thrown items at the government headquarters.

The judge also refuted a claim made by Tse, who was 20 at the time of the offence, that he was wearing gear – including gloves, goggles, and a gas mask – he had taken from the scene because he was “greedy.”

“I think that based on the social situation at the time, it is impossible for [Tse] to ignore or not consider the risk of being mistaken as a protester or being arrested,” Cheng wrote.

District Court. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The minor was arrested when the police came out of the government headquarters. Cheng said that from that and other testimonies, it was clear that the teenager did not leave the area of the riot after throwing things at the government headquarters.

Cheng ruled that it was impossible for the two defendants to be “innocent third parties,” or passers-by, and convicted the pair of rioting.

Mitigation

During mitigation, the defence said that the court should reduce the prison terms due to the delay in legal proceedings. Monday’s court hearing took place more than three years after the incident.

The judge said that it was not matter of taking time away from the sentence because of the delay, it was that there were no other cases to support such deductions.

Deputy District Judge Cheng Lim-chi. Photo: Judiciary.

Opposing the proposal, the prosecution said that a lot of other cases handled at the District Court had taken a similar amount of time and they “did not think that there was any delay.”

Barrister Steven Kwan, representing the minor, cited a case at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts where defendants were given a one-month reduction to their sentences due to the delay.

Kwan also said that the delay was a fact, and the defence was not attempting to point fingers at anyone for it, but the court should focus on whether the defendants had contributed to the delay, and if not a sentence deduction should be considered.

After hearing mitigation submissions from all defendants, Cheng requested to obtain training centre reports for two of the defendants, and adjourned the case to November 21 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.