All, except one, of the 44 people who were arrested on rioting charges following the anti-government protests and clashes in the Central and Western District on Sunday have been granted bail.
The accused, some of whom were as young as 16, were released on bail of HK$1,000 each and ordered to come back for a hearing scheduled for September 25.
Most of the defendants, a list that includes 13 students, an airline pilot, a teacher and a nurse, have to observe a curfew under which they have to remain at home between midnight and 6 am.
Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen, who is overseeing the case, barred 43 bailed activists from leaving Hong Kong, making an exception only for a 30-year-old who works as a Cathay Pacific Airways pilot.
Prosecutors had sought a travel ban on the pilot as well, but his lawyers argued that such restriction would put the airline employee at the risk of losing his job.
In the end, it was agreed that the the pilot could continue his travels, but only for the purpose of his duties. He will have to provide his duty roster regularly to show proof of his work-related travel requirement.
Meanwhile, Law canceled bail for a 22-year-old defendant, a female clerk surnamed Yan, also charged with rioting, as she failed to appear in court. An arrest warrant has been issued for her.
The court’s decision came after 49 people aged between 16 and 41, including 32 men and 17 women, were arrested last Sunday, when an extradition bill-related demonstration descended into clashes between the protesters and the police.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday night, during the illegal assembly, “protesters [blocked] roads along Connaught Road West and Des Voeux Road West, near Western Street.”
The protesters “set up roadblocks”, “pried up pavement bricks, demolished roadside fences, damaged street signs and lampposts as well as attacked Police Officers at scene with lethal weapons such as bricks and sharpened iron rods,” the press release said.
Two of them were later released on bail pending further investigation, while another two, a man and a woman, were temporarily let off.
The police charged 44 of the remaining arrested activists with rioting, while a 24-year-old man was charged with possession of an offensive weapon.
Of the 44 accused of rioting, a 33-year-old man was also charged with assaulting a police officer, an individual who is said to be a son of former police commissioner Tang King-shing.
Before the case was mentioned, a lot of people gathered outside the court to show their support for the defendants. After Law announced his decision, some of the assembled activists vented their anger by targeting a passing police car and damaging the vehicle.
The cases were adjourned to Sept. 25 as no pleas were taken.
Pointing out the large number of defendants, the judge said he would consider moving the proceedings to the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts.
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