The District Court has jailed nine people found guilty of rioting charges over the Mong Kok unrest in 2016, while a teenager was sent to a training centre.
At the start of the hearing, judge Kwok Wai-kin made clear that the court would not engage in any political debates over what had caused the riot. He also said the defendants had to bear collective liability for the rioting, on top of what each of them had personally done.
Among the defendants, 19-year-old Mo Jia-tao was jailed for four years and three months for rioting, throwing bricks and other items at policemen more than a dozen times, and damaging a police van.
The judge said the defendant had used “serious violence” against police officers and had no regard for the law.
He ruled out sending Mo to a training or detention centre, despite his young age, saying the need to punish him and deter others was greater than the need for his rehabilitation.
The judge also noted that Mo was one of the first few people to charge a police cordon and this had encouraged others to follow suit.
Seven others were also jailed after being found guilty of one count of rioting.
The oldest among them, 72-year-old Chan Wo-cheung, was put in prison for 41 months. The judge said the defendant was in Mong Kok in the early evening, and had obviously stayed on to confront the police.
Chan's lawyer had earlier told the court that his client became interested in social issues after his retirement, and had taken part in the annual July 1 rally as well as the Occupy protests to fight for the rights of the elderly and the underprivileged. He said Chan promised only to voice his opinions via “proper platforms” in the future.
Another defendant, 19-year-old Yep Chi-fung, was sent to a training centre, where he will be detained for between 18 and 24 months depending on his behaviour.
The only defendant who pleaded guilty to rioting, Ng Ting-kai, is autistic.
His lawyer said he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time due to his condition. But the judge said Ng clearly knew what he was doing, as he was wearing a mask and also used the hood of his jacket to hide his face.
The judge therefore refused to sentence Ng to community service as suggested by probation officers, and jailed him for two years and four months instead.
An 11th defendant had absconded after she was charged.
The clashes during the Lunar New Year holiday of 2016 erupted after a dispute over the clearance of food vendors. Pitched street battles saw mobs attack police officers with bricks and sticks.
Last updated: 2018-05-31 HKT 18:18