A case involving four men in connection with a mob attack during the Hong Kong protests in 2019 has been moved to a higher court.

yuen long july 21 china extradition
Photo: Screenshot.

Ng Wai-tak, Wong Ho-sing, Tang Siu-hung, Cheng Man-kit appeared at Fanling Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning. The four faced charges of rioting and conspiracy to wound in relation to an incident on the night of July 21, 2019, when dozens of men wearing white shirts attacked commuters in Yuen Long MTR station after protests on Hong Kong Island.

The four were only charged in July, four years after the attack. They have been remanded in custody since. One of the defendants, Cheng, was allowed bail on Friday, The Witness reported.

The case was adjourned to October 5, when the case will be moved to the District Court, a higher court where defendants face a maximum of seven years in jail. The maximum sentence for cases heard in a magistrate court is two years for a single offence.

Yuen Long attacks

The MTR station attacks marked a turning point during the protests and unrest in 2019, sparked by a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China.

On the night of the incident, men wearing white shirts and wielding sticks indiscriminately attacked commuters, some of whom were returning from a protest in Sheung Wan.

Fanling Law Courts Building
Fanling Law Courts Building. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

Police were said to have walked away as emergency calls were ignored, with officers arriving at the scene 39 minutes after initial reports.

Then-lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting and Stand News journalist Gwyneth Ho were among those injured during the attack.

In total, 69 people have been arrested in relation to the incident, 22 of whom have been charged, The Witness reported. Eight have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from three and a half years to seven years.

Those charged – all of whom face accusations of rioting – include eight people who were not among the attackers, including Lam. All of them pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

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 police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.” 

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Hillary Leung is a journalist at Hong Kong Free Press, where she reports on local politics and social issues, and assists with editing. Since joining in late 2021, she has covered the Covid-19 pandemic, political court cases including the 47 democrats national security trial, and challenges faced by minority communities.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hillary completed her undergraduate degree in journalism and sociology at the University of Hong Kong. She worked at TIME Magazine in 2019, where she wrote about Asia and overnight US news before turning her focus to the protests that began that summer. At Coconuts Hong Kong, she covered general news and wrote features, including about a Black Lives Matter march that drew controversy amid the local pro-democracy movement and two sisters who were born to a domestic worker and lived undocumented for 30 years in Hong Kong.