Prosecutors on Friday dropped the riot charges they had slapped on two men following a protest march from Kwun Tong to Kowloon Bay last year, while still arguing that the pair had brought their legal trouble on themselves.
Brick-throwing protesters clashed with riot officers firing tear gas and sponge rounds at the demonstration on August 24, which also saw a "smart lamppost" torn down.
Lau Chun-hing, 33, and Cheung Man-wai, 34, were both charged with rioting, with prosecutors telling Kwun Tong Magistrates' Court that the pair had been among the protesters on that day.
They said Lau was equipped with the "full gear" used by people at anti-government protests, which in recent times has extended to helmets and respirators, as well as umbrellas.
But Lau's lawyer argued that being as police were known for using force and firing tear gas during sanctioned protests, it wasn't surprising that his client had sought to protect himself.
Cheung's lawyer, meanwhile, said his client didn't have a face mask, nevermind a respirator or a helmet, and he had only been a "few steps away" from the approved march route.
Prosecutors said in any case, they had decided to drop the riot charges "after seeking legal advice".
Nevertheless, they objected to the two defendants' applications to have their costs reimbursed, saying the men had "brought suspicion upon themselves".
Lau's lawyer responded by saying the fact that no alternative charge was laid against his client showed the prosecution had no evidence to convict him of any crime.
The magistrate decided to approve the men's applications for costs.
Outside court, Lau told reporters he was relieved at the outcome of the case, but wasn't particularly happy being as so many other protesters have been charged.
Prosecutors drop charges against two 'rioters'
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