The High Court began the trial of five men accused of participating in the Mong Kok “riot” in 2016 on Thursday. A government vehicle (inset) transported Edward Leung, one of the five defendants, to the court. Photo: HKEJ/i-Cable News
The High Court began hearing the case of five men accused of rioting in Mong Kok two years ago, with the prosecutors urging the nine-member jury to find them guilty, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The jurors on Thursday viewed a series of video clips depicting street scenes near Argyle and Portland street from the night of Feb. 8, 2016 to the early hours of the following day.
Senior counsel Eric Kwok Tung-ming, representing the prosecution, said Edward Leung Tin-kei, former spokesman of the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous and one of the defendants, and Ray Wong Toi-yeung, the group’s convener who is not a defendant in the case, could be seen inciting the crowd to use violence against police officers dispatched to maintain order.
The duo clearly collaborated with each other to verbally encourage people at the scene to assault the police, Kwok said.
The prosecutor described those who followed the incitement as rioters madly throwing trash bins and cardboards at the police who were caught off guard.
The court heard earlier that from the late hours of Feb. 8 to the early hours of Feb. 9, the first and second day of the Lunar New Year in 2016, a group of people staged a protest after officers of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) tried to evict street hawkers from Portland Street.
During the demonstration, some people in the crowd engaged in violent clashes with the police, prompting officials to describe the event as a riot.
More than 100 people, including police officers and protesters, were injured in the clashes. A number of protesters were subsequently charged with rioting.
Leung had pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer during the clashes but denied other charges against him, including inciting a riot, participating in a riot, and unlawful assembly.
Kwok insisted that the evidence speaks for itself and he sees no reason why the defendants cannot be convicted of unlawful assembly or rioting since their acts caught on video clearly made them guilty of the charges.
The trial was to continue on Friday, with some of the FEHD staff expected to be called by the prosecution as witnesses.
Meanwhile, a photo posted on the Facebook page of the Student Union of The Chinese University of Hong Kong showed Chinese characters with an English translation – “Hong Kong Hero Leung Tin-kei” – written on the base of a Goddess of Democracy statue at the University MTR station.
The identity of the person who put up the statue with the graffiti remained unknown, but it was not the first time that the statue was used in a political demonstration.
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