HONG KONG (REUTERS) - A Hong Kong court on Friday (June 18) found five men guilty of a 2019 attack on pro-democracy protesters, reporters and bystanders at a train station at the height of anti-government protests.
The July 21 attack in the northern Yuen Long district by more than 100 people wearing white T-shirts wielding sticks and poles were some of the most violent scenes of the 2019 unrest and shocked many people in the former British colony.
The attack sparked criticism of police for what democracy activists called a sluggish response, with some accusing them of colluding with triad gangsters suspected of carrying out the attack. Police have rejected the accusations, blaming the slow response partly on protests elsewhere draining resources.
District Court Judge Eddie Yip found Wong Ying-kit, Tang Wai-sum, Ng Wai-nam, Tang Ying-bun and Choi Lap-ki guilty of rioting, among other charges. All had pleaded not guilty. A sixth defendant, Wong Chi-wing, was found not guilty of rioting and wounding with intent.
Sentencing is expected on July 22. Rioting carries up to 10 years in jail.
These were the first convictions of any of the white-shirted attackers. Two other people accused of being part of that mob, Lam Koon-leung and Lam Kai-ming, pleaded guilty to rioting and will be sentenced later.
A police spokesperson said in a reply to Reuters that the police had arrested 63 people in relation to the Yuen Long incident. Fifteen of those have been charged with taking part in a riot, and among them eight were also charged with "conspiracy to wound with intent". Media tallies show seven of those charged were not part of the white-shirted mob.
Former democratic lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who was hospitalised after being wounded as he livestreamed the attack, was also charged with rioting.
An award-winning journalist, Bao Choy, investigating the police action that day for public broadcaster RTHK, was found guilty in April of obtaining vehicle registrations illegally to trace those behind the assault.