The District Court on Wednesday handed down jail sentences of at least four years to three people convicted of rioting in Tsuen Wan during anti-government protests in 2019 – even though the judge acknowledged there was no evidence they had any actual role in the riot.
District Court judge Ernest Lin said that the presence of the three defendants at the protest on October 1, 2019, had encouraged protesters who were confronting police officers.
Lin said there had been more than 100 demonstrators in the area, with some setting fires on the street and hurling petrol bombs at officers. He described it as like a “mini war” between police and protesters – but officers had acted with restraint.
He said it was no coincidence that the three defendants, who had been dressed like protesters, stayed at the scene while the standoff lasted for 20 minutes.
Lin said the trio, who are all in their 20s, had to face the same punishment as those who broke the law based on the “joint enterprise” principle.
The judge said a deterrent sentence was needed, and adopted a starting point of four and a half years, before deducting between one and three months from their sentences after considering background reports.
One other defendant, 40-year-old Chan Hang, was convicted of arson for throwing a banner into a fire, on top of his conviction for rioting.
He was jailed for four years and eight months, the longest sentence among the four defendants.