Seven people who were initially accused of taking part in a riot during Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests are set to plead guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful assembly, the court has heard. While rioting is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, the maximum charge for participating in an unlawful assembly is imprisonment of five years.

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A protest scene on August 25, 2019. File photo: May James/HKFP.

The seven were among nine defendants – Tse Shun-shing, 31, Mick Tong, 34, Leung Kai-yin, 27, Tang Chi-hong, 25, Kan Tzi-chung, 26, Pun Sai-kit, 28, Chan Hing-lung, 35, Esther Law, 44, and Tang Ho-ying, 24 – who appeared in front of District Judge Stanley Chan on Tuesday afternoon.

They faced a charge of conspiring to take part in a riot outside the Tsuen Wan Slaughterhouse in Kwai Chung on August 25, 2019.

Tang Chi-hong, Leung, Tang, Kan, and Law have also been charged with possession of offensive weapons. Additionally, Tong, Tang Chi-hong, Kan and Pun have been accused of possessing radiocommunications apparatus without a license.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the court allowed the prosecution to add an alternative charge – conspiracy to take part in an unlawful assembly – against the nine.

The prosecution then revealed that Pun and Law would plead not guilty to their charges, while the remaining seven were set to plead guilty to the alternative offence.

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Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

Judge Chan then scheduled the courts to handle official pleas, mitigation and sentencing for the seven on November 10. Meanwhile, a ten-day trial was set for March 15, 2024, for Pun and Law.

Tang applied to revoke own bail

Apart from Tse, who was earlier sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for attempting to rob a gun from an officer during a separate protest, the remaining defendants have been granted bail.

On Tuesday, Judge Chan approved Tang Ho-ying’s application to revoke her bail.

The defendant, who wore her hair in a pony tail and a blue denim jacket, was in tears at the end of the hearing.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.