A 31-year-old activist from a radical political group has been sentenced to nine months in jail in connection with the violent protests that took place in Mong Kok in February.
Chan Pak-yeung, a member of the localist organization Civic Passion, was handed the sentence by the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, making him the first person to be convicted for the Lunar New Year clashes.
A judge found Chan guilty on two counts — assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The court heard earlier that the defendant threw plastic water bottles at a police officer twice in the early morning on Feb. 9 during clashes on Mong Kok streets.
Chan tried to run away as a police officer chased him, but he was subdued and taken into custody.
Following his arrest, he was initially charged with rioting. But the charges were later downgraded to assaulting an officer and resisting the police in execution of their duty.
Chan had denied both charges, but failed to convince the court of his innocence.
His application for bail pending appeal was refused by the court, which ordered immediate incarceration.
Chan argued that he only went to a protest scene to see if police officers really fired shots to quell a crowd, following reports of such incidents.
He said he was mistaken for someone else who threw bottles, and had been arrested on the spot.
Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak, however, did not buy Chan’s arguments.
Upholding a policeman’s testimony, So said he believes the officer never took his eyes off the defendant during a chase and that there was no need for Chan to react angrily to the officer.
If Chan had really not done what he was accused of, he would have cooperated with the officer rather than resisting him, the judge said, according to Apple Daily.
As for the defendant’s claim that he suffered from police brutality during the arrest process, So dismissed it by saying that a video clip presented as evidence showed it was not the case at all.
Describing Chan as a rioter who treated police as mobile targets and disregarded law and order, the magistrate said a deterrent sentence is appropriate.
The MongKok protests, which were triggered by a government move to evict street hawkers, saw more than 100 people, including police officers and protesters, suffer injuries.
The government has described the violence as a “riot”, as demonstrators clashed with the police and hurled various objects at officers.
Following Thursday’s conviction of Chan, former lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man said he believes the ruling was based on political reasons.
The veteran radical said he will do his best to win an appeal for Chan.
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