HK protesters on riot charges to be released on bail, with some subject to midnight curfew following clashes with police

01-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Forty-three protesters facing riot charges in Hong Kong were released on bail on Wednesday, with the vast majority given a midnight curfew.

All but two of them were given curfews running from midnight to 6am when they appeared at Eastern Court in front of a packed gallery.

A 44th protester charged with rioting, 22-year-old clerk Yan Hoi-ying, did not appear and the magistrate issued an arrest warrant.

A 45th defendant, student Chen Zimau, 24, was not accused of rioting, but charged with one count of possessing an offensive weapon and was also granted bail.

The crowd outside Eastern Court on Wednesday. (South China Morning Post)

The crowd outside Eastern Court on Wednesday. (South China Morning Post)

The curfew exemptions for two accused allowed one to do overnight shifts at a children’s home, and a Cathay Pacific pilot to leave the city for work.

Those before magistrates, who also included a teacher and a girl aged 16, were all granted cash bail of HK$1,000 (US$128) and must report to their local police station once a week.

The 28 men and 16 women were charged in connection with Sunday’s protests in Central and Western district, Hong Kong Island.

The hearings finished at 12.30pm on Wednesday. No pleas were entered.

They were the first rioting charges in two months of civil unrest over the now-abandoned extradition bill.

All 44 face one count of rioting, an offence punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment.

One of the defendants, 33-year-old clerk Mok Cheuk-fai, was also charged with assaulting police.

The youngest to appear before Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen at Eastern Court was a 16-year-old girl, while the oldest was a 41-year-old woman.

The group included 13 students and seven clerks. Other occupations were listed as chef, nurse, electrician and construction worker. Five were unemployed.

Outside the court in Sai Wan Ho, hundreds of people gathered to support the defendants.

They turned up despite heavy rain and wind as the No 3 typhoon signal was in place, with the city bracing itself for an upgrade to No 8.

“Revive Hong Kong! Revolution of our times!” some chanted.

Selina Yip, 23, who works in the aviation industry, said the charges would only encourage people to take part in more demonstrations.

“Since [the defendants] are on the front line, and they have been taken away, we can replace them,” she said, adding the protests did not need to be physical.

“We should try something new. Not fighting with police. We need new ways to surprise society and the government.”

But she had low expectations for a planned strike on Friday, adding: “I know Hongkongers well. They love to work. To be a successful strike, it will take time.”

Student Nathan Chan, 23, said the rioting charge was no deterrent.

“It makes me angry and pushes me to do more,” Chan said.

Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a co-founder of the pro-democracy Occupy movement, was also among the crowd.

“They are all very calm and courageous,” Chu said, with tears in his eyes.

“It is disheartening to see them arrested, for we aspire to a civil society, but the government is using police to crack down on our next generation. It’s just pathetic.”

Chu said the government had done little to respond to the key demands of the public, including an independent inquiry into clashes during earlier protests.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of protests since June 9 over the government’s extradition bill, which was shelved on June 15.

The legislation would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no extradition deal, including mainland China, where critics say fair trials are not guaranteed.

Hours before the court appearances, chaotic scenes erupted outside Kwai Chung Police Station on Wednesday night, where people opposing the prosecutions besieged the building.

Five other people were arrested over the same day of protests. Among them, two were released on bail pending further investigation, while another two were temporarily released.



Category: Hong Kong

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