Two charged with rioting over Yuen Long attacks

August 23, 2019 14:28
White-clad men with sticks and other weapons are seen outside the Yuen Long MTR Station shortly after the attacks on July 21. Photo: Reuters

Police have charged two of the 28 men arrested in connection with the indiscriminate attacks on protesters and ordinary commuters at the Yuen Long MTR Station on July 21.

The two, aged 48 and 54, have been charged with participating in a riot, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. 

They were to appear at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts for mention on Friday afternoon.

In a daily press briefing on Thursday, police did not reveal more details about the two men, such as what they were accused of doing during the attacks.

Under the Public Ordinance, those convicted of riot may be jailed for up to 10 years.

In the attacks, a group of white-clad men targeted people wearing black – the dress code of anti-government protesters who were then returning home from a Sunday protest march on Hong Kong Island – using weapons such as sticks, pipes and brooms.

At least 45 people were injured, including ordinary commuters and residents who happened to be wearing black, in the attacks at the MTR train compartments and other areas inside or near the station.

Police did not reveal the progress of prosecution against the other 26 people arrested in connection with the attacks, but a lawyer pointed out that they may also be charged with rioting since they acted as a group.

Barrister Billy Li On-yin said a number of the white-clad attackers clearly intended to assault people and as such, the incident should be classified as a riot.

Li, who is also convenor of Progressive Lawyers Group, said he would not be surprised if the others are not charged until about a month later because quite a lot of the white-clad attackers were wearing face masks at the time, and the prosecution needs time to confirm their identities.

In the press briefing, police also talked about Wednesday’s sit-in at the Yuen Long MTR Station to mark one month since the attacks occurred. The protest began peacefully but later turned violent. 

Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung of the Police Public Relations Branch said the violent acts of some of the protesters, including damaging facilities at the station, had nothing to do with the purpose of the rally.

Two of the protesters, aged 27 and 36, were arrested for unlawful assembly and had remained detained as of Thursday.

Kong also said police had received a complaint from MTR Corp. and the case, listed as criminal damage, was handed to the Yuen Long District Investigation Team for follow-up.

Asked why there was no clearance operation taken that night, police said the decision was made after considering the environment and manpower at the time.

Besides, there might have been severe clashes with the protesters if the police had taken action.

Police stressed, however, that they will not tolerate unlawful acts and will follow up on the case.

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