A Polytechnic University graduate was jailed for nearly four years on Monday for rioting during violent clashes with police near the Kowloon campus at the height of Hong Kong’s social unrest in 2019.
District Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che said the 45-month sentence handed to product engineer Lui Sheuk-hang reflected the serious breach of peace caused by more than 100 protesters throwing petrol bombs and shining lasers at police officers, while taking into account the defendant’s good background and relatively minor role in the disturbance.
The 31-year-old was the first defendant to be found guilty after trial of rioting outside the university in Hung Hom on November 18, 2019. He was also convicted last month of one count of possessing an instrument fit for an unlawful purpose.
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Lui, who was seen wearing protective equipment at the scene, was arrested after falling to the ground during a police clearance of those protesters gathering on Wuhu Street at about 11pm.
Some of the group were hurling petrol bombs and bricks or shining bright lights at officers, while ignoring repeated warnings to disperse.
A subsequent search found a bag of 26 marbles and another one of 100 cable ties in Lui’s backpack. Traces of toluene, a highly flammable solvent, were also found in a pair of arm warmers he was wearing.
Lui said he was only there as a university alumnus in the hope of witnessing the moment a resolution was found to the ongoing conflict.
But that argument failed to convince Yiu, who ruled the defendant was situated among, or even in front of, the crowd of protesters in the stand-off with police.
The judge further held that the marbles and cable ties carried by the defendant were to be used for blocking roads and impeding police progress.
Last month, two protesters were jailed for 32 months each after they pleaded guilty to rioting near PolyU on the same day.
Rioting is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but the sentence is capped at seven years when the case is heard at the District Court.
The events in and around Polytechnic University’s Hung Hom campus in November 2019 were some of the most violent and dramatic of that year’s anti-government protests.
After more than 1,000 hardcore protesters and their supporters moved into the university grounds, hundreds of police officers locked down the campus in a siege that lasted 13 days, until November 29.
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