Hong Kong court issues guilty verdicts in 2019 pro-democracy riot

Hong Kong court issues guilty verdicts in 2019 pro-democracy rioting case that saw the Legislative Council building in the financial center being stormed.

Hong Kong court has delivered guilty verdicts to four individuals charged with rioting during the 2019 pro-democracy protests that saw the Legislative Council building in the financial centre being stormed. This decision follows eight others who had previously pleaded guilty in connection with the incident.

The rioting occurred on July 1, 2019, when hundreds of protesters surrounded Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building after a march against a proposed extradition bill. The bill, if enacted, would have permitted authorities to send individuals to mainland China for trial.

District Court Judge Li Chi-ho pronounced Ho Chun-yin, actor Gregory Wong, Ng Chi-yung, and Lam Kam-kwan guilty of rioting. Notably, Ho expressed visible distress inside the courtroom upon hearing the verdict. Lam faced an additional conviction for criminal damage, while reporters Wong Ka-ho and Ma Kai-chung were acquitted of rioting but found guilty of “entering or staying in the precincts of the chamber.”

In his verdict, Judge Li acknowledged that Wong Ka-ho and Ma Kai-Chung were reporting but disagreed with their belief that reporters could remain within the Legislative Council premises during the incident. He suggested that Wong, being a well-known artist, could have met the reporter outside to avoid taking unnecessary risks.

During the trial, Gregory Wong asserted that he entered the legislative council solely to deliver chargers to reporters covering the protest. Video evidence presented by the prosecution showed Wong leaving the chamber promptly after delivering the chargers. Judge Li expressed scepticism, suggesting Wong could have met the reporter outside the Legislative Council to avoid contributing to the situation.

One of the defendants, Lam Kam-kwan, claimed he was detained in China in August 2019 after the Legco storming incident, where he was allegedly coerced into writing a repentance letter. Hong Kong police officers reportedly met him in Shenzhen, warning him to cooperate or risk being unable to return to Hong Kong. Police officers, however, denied these claims during cross-examination by the defence.

This latest development underscores the ongoing legal repercussions stemming from the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The district court imposes a maximum sentence of seven years in prison for rioting, highlighting the severity of the charges faced by those involved in the storming of the Legislative Council building.