Six people have been sentenced to up to three years in jail after being found guilty of rioting near the government headquarters in September 2019.

Lau Sheung-chi, Lai Ho-pan, Kong Pik-yi, Hung Chung-mun, Chen Hangsheng and Lau Man-fai received their sentence from District Judge Stanley Chan on Friday afternoon.

Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

They were among nine defendants accused of taking part in a riot in Admiralty on September 29, 2019. The six pleaded guilty in September. Their co-defendants pleaded not guilty.

Among those who pleaded guilty, four were filmed on Harcourt Road using umbrellas as protective shields or picking up bricks and hurling them at the government headquarters, local media reported. The remaining two were wearing black clothing and protective gear such as masks and goggles when they were stopped by police.

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Student Lau Sheung-chi was sentenced to a training centre as he was only 15 years old when the offence was committed. Training centres are an alternative to imprisonment for offenders under the age of 21, where the period of detention ranges from six months to three years based on conduct.

Kong, a nurse, was jailed for two and a half years. The remaining four defendants were given a three-year imprisonment.

Hung originally faced an extra charge of assaulting a police officer and Chen an extra charge of possessing offensive weapons but those were kept on court file.

Photo: May James/HKFP

On September 29, 2019, chaos erupted on Hong Kong Island as protesters staged an unauthorised “global anti-authoritarianism march” that coincided with rallies held in more than 40 countries.

Police deployed water cannon, tear gas and pepper spray to crack down on demonstrators who hurled bricks and petrol bombs. Protesters also set fire to makeshift barricades and vandalised MTR exits.

Challenge to authorities

In handing down the sentences, judge Chan said that apart from the riots at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Admiralty clash was another serious case involving violence that occurred during the 2019 protests, according to local media reports.

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Chan said the protests happened near the government headquarters, which symbolised the core of the Hong Kong administration, adding it was “horrifying” that protesters paralysed traffic in the central business districts and hurled objects such as petrol bombs and bricks.

He also said the incident occurred two days before the National Day public holiday, and the protesters targeting the government headquarters was “an act of challenge to the authorities of the Hong Kong government and the nation.”

Stanley Chan. File photo: Judiciary.

The judge said the riot was “organised, premeditated, well-planned and equipped,” adding factors such as the extensive use of petrol bombs were elements that warranted a harsher sentence.

The other three defendants who pleaded not guilty have also been convicted and are awaiting sentencing on December 8.

Anti-totalitarianism protest

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.