HK trio plead not guilty to rioting

They allegedly hurled glass bottles at police during unrest in Mongkok last year

A closed-circuit television camera from a jewellery shop captured three people hurling glass bottles and a bamboo pole at police during a riot in Mongkok last year.

Yesterday, students Hui Ka Ki, 22, and Mak Tsz Hei, 19, and Sit Tat Wing, 33, a cook, pleaded not guilty to a joint charge of rioting in the alleged incident on Feb 9.

The district court heard how the first day of the Chinese New Year last year turned into a night of chaos and social unrest, after protesters began to surround a group of enforcement officers who were attending to a complaint about some hawkers at the scene.

The incident happened in the late hours of Feb 8 and early hours of Feb 9. Police had to be called to control the crowd.

By 4.30am, a line of defence had been formed between the police and protesters. Some people began moving towards the police, throwing glass bottles and debris at them.

The court heard that a female police officer, who was standing 20m away from Hui, saw her throw a glass bottle at the police line before fleeing the scene. The officer gave chase and managed to catch up with her at a road divider.

  • 2,000

    Number of bricks prised from pavements to be used as "missiles" during the riot.

    22

    Number of fires rioters lit.

    800

    Number of police officers dispatched.

Hui put up a struggle but was eventually arrested. In a backpack that she was carrying, police found a yellow raincoat and a mask.

Prosecution said the second defendant, Mak, who used a scarf to cover part of his face, also threw a glass bottle at police. He also allegedly threw a 2m-long bamboo pole at a police officer, injuring the officer's right leg.

When they arrested him, police found a pair of goggles inside his backpack.

The third defendant, Sit, was also seen throwing a glass bottle at the police defence line before fleeing.

Over 80 people were arrested and more than 50 were charged over the riot last year. At least 20 of them have been discharged from prosecution owing to lack of evidence.

Among those arrested was high-profile pro-independence activist Edward Leung, who faces charges of rioting and incitement to riot. His case will be heard in court next year.

A report in the South China Morning Post last year said protesters prised 2,000 bricks from the pavements to use as missiles to cause mayhem, and lit 22 fires. Some 800 policemen were dispatched to the scene at the height of the chaos, where more than 700 alleged rioters went on a rampage for more than 10 hours.

It was the worst street violence the city had seen since pro-democracy protests in 2014. Some 130 people were injured, including nearly 90 police officers and at least four journalists.

Police fired at least two warning shots in the air and used pepper sprays to drive back protesters.

The seven-day trial continues today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'HK trio plead not guilty to rioting'. Print Edition | Subscribe