A Hong Kong court on Friday granted bail to the 18-year-old student protester who was charged with rioting and assaulting police while in hospital recovering from a gunshot wound inflicted by a police officer.
Prosecutors said the court had no jurisdiction to grant bail when the defendant, Tsang Chi-kin, was absent, arguing that Tsang’s lawyers could have invited the magistrate to hospital for the bail application.
But Don So Man-lung, the acting principal magistrate, sided with Tsang’s lawyers, finding the court had discretionary power to handle bail applications made by defendants who were involuntarily absent.
The teenager was released from police custody and bailed on HK$5,000 (US$637) in cash to be paid by next Tuesday, with the condition that he remain in Hong Kong.
Tsang was the first demonstrator to be shot with live ammunition since anti-government protests broke out in the city in June.
He was charged with one count of rioting and two counts of assaulting police during the protests in Tsuen Wan on October 1, at which time he was shot in the chest by a police officer.
Of the three charges, rioting carries the highest penalty, capped at 10 years in prison.
His case was brought to Sha Tin Court on Thursday after doctors transferred him from the intensive care unit to the special care unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan.
Two of Tsang’s co-defendants were in court on Friday: 22-year-old student Kwok Siu-kam and 25-year-old programmer Lee Chun-man. Lee appeared in the dock with a walking aid.
Both were granted cash bails of up to HK$10,000 – despite objections from the prosecution – and were ordered to stay in Hong Kong and regularly report to police.
The case returns to court on November 14, pending further police investigation.