Two men and a woman have been jailed for up to four years by a Hong Kong court over their roles in “savage” and “senseless” attacks inflicted on defenceless passers-by during last year’s anti-government protests.
The trio had pleaded guilty to assault charges and explained to the District Court how they acted out of character after hearing rumours at the scene about their respective victims being either a mainlander or a policeman who was about to attack protesters.
But District Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on found their offences were “still very serious”, as Hong Kong had no place for vigilantism, adding that the defendants had behaved like “thugs who attacked or intimidated innocent people at will”, leaving their victims “battered, bloodied and dazed”, and with serious injuries.
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“For whatever reason they decided to take part, what they did was ugly and unacceptable,” Kwok said on Wednesday. “They were not allowed to take the law into their own hands.”
Cleaner Law Wai-wah, 57, was jailed for four years after he admitted to taking part in both attacks and pleaded guilty to two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, an offence punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment when the case is heard at the District Court level.
Saleswoman Wong Yee-ting, 23, and Egyptian construction worker Soliman Ahmed Fawzi Elsayed, 36, were each jailed for 15 months following their guilty pleas to the lesser charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm – which carries a lower maximum term of three years – over their involvement in the first attack.
The court previously heard the incidents took place on the first night of demonstrations following the government’s ban on masks on October 5, 2019.
Kwok observed that protests had been growing increasingly violent at the time, as there were “senseless group attacks on civilians”, as well as barricades and obstructions “wantonly” erected on major roads, restricting the public’s free movement.
He accepted that the defendants were carried away by the atmosphere, but said it was only fortunate that their victims were not more seriously or permanently injured, given that they had been defenceless against the “savage attacks”, mounted for no good reason other than over their perceived backgrounds.
The first assault took place when a 29-year-old visitor from mainland China, named only as X, was walking alone back to his hostel in Mong Kok that evening with a brick-like object in hand.
A woman identified him as a mainlander and drew the attention of some 30 black-clad individuals, who then assaulted him and took away some of his personal belongings, including his phone, money and bank cards.
Among them was Law, who admitted to hitting X with a metal rod, while Wong blocked cameras by holding up a rainbow-coloured umbrella.
Wong also admitted to pushing X once when he lost balance, while Soliman kicked the man after he fell to the ground.
X did not retaliate or attempt to defend himself with the rectangular object he was holding, the judge said.
Less than two hours later, Law used the same rod to join at least 10 people in attacking a 45-year-old drunken local, identified as Y. Protesters mistook the man for a police officer after he attempted to clear some obstructions at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street upon finding multiple barricades blocking his way home.
Both victims have since recovered from their injuries and received monetary compensation from the defendants.
In mitigation, defence counsel Fiona Nam said her client, Law, was a law-abiding citizen who “truly felt for the younger generation” and had impulsively resorted to violence upon hearing rumours that the victims were about to attack protesters.
Such claims were also said to have influenced the other two defendants’ behaviour.
This article Hong Kong judge jails trio over ‘senseless’ attacks on bystanders during last year’s protests first appeared on South China Morning Post