Four Hong Kong men have been jailed for between 26 and 28 months for taking part in a riot on July 1, 2019 during a flag-raising ceremony marking the Handover anniversary. A younger co-defendant was sentenced to a training centre.

July 1 china extradition protest
Protesters on July 1, 2019. File photo: Isaac Yee/HKFP.

Sun Lai, 20, Chan Jing-xing, 21, Chan Chun-kiu, 21, Wong Ka-ki, 30, and Ho Yu-hin, 29, appeared in front of District Judge Clement Lee for sentencing on Thursday after earlier pleading guilty to taking part in a riot.

A separate charge against Lai for “possessing anything with intent to destroy or damage property” was left on file.

The five were among some 200 protesters who gathered in the morning of July 1, 2019, following online calls to disrupt the flag-raising ceremony in Wanchai’s Golden Bauhinia Square. The protesters hurled eggs, water bottles and other objects at police, with some shining laser pointers at officers or hitting them with umbrellas.

Judge Lee said the riot was “the beginning of a series of violent incidents.” He said participants “obviously planned ahead” and came prepared as most of them had worn masks and brought protective gear.

Wan Chai District Court
District Court. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

While acknowledging there was no evidence of any injury or arson or the use of bricks or petrol bombs in the case, Lee said its severity was still at a “medium level.” The judge cited the number of participants, the time span of the riot, and the fact that the protesters had assaulted officers and used smoke bombs.

Lee said many of those taking part in the unlawful assemblies or riots during 2019 were young people. “Although they had a dream of changing society, they expressed it by illegal means, which in turn harmed others as well as themselves,” the judge added.

3.5 years of delay

After considering the mitigating factors, Lee sentenced 20-year-old Lai to a training centre – an alternative to imprisonment for offenders under the age of 21.

According to the judge, Lai was diagnosed with depression in January due to the stress from the legal proceedings as well as his university studies. There was also no proof that Lai had been directly involved in the violence.

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District Judge Clement Lee. File photo: Judiciary.

The judge then handed down 26 months of imprisonment to Chan Jing-xing, Chan Chun-kiu, and Ho after taking into account their guilty plea discount. The three were found to have contributed to the riot’s momentum by their presence, but not to have committed any violent acts.

Wong received the heaviest punishment of 28 months, as there was evidence that he had thrown water bottles towards police.

The judge said he took into account the defendants’ clean records and the three and a half years they had waited for sentence.

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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.