A university student accused of blocking roads during last year’s social unrest in Hong Kong was convicted on Tuesday, after the magistrate made reference to his all-black outfit in ascertaining his participation in the protest.
City University freshman Chan Tung-shing, 18, has been remanded in custody after he was found guilty in West Kowloon Court of possessing an offensive weapon and obstructing a public place on November 13, when anti-government protesters caused disruption to traffic across the city on the third day of a citywide strike that month.
Chan, who majors in data science, was said to be among more than 10 protesters who blocked Tam Kon Shan Interchange that night using traffic cones, rubbish bins, and plastic barriers. However, Constable Wong Ka-ho, who arrested Chan, admitted he did not witness the student committing any offence at the scene.
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The officer subdued Chan after a 500m chase, before finding a string of Allen keys in the student’s pocket, the court was told.
The defendant was wearing black when he was arrested. Could this be a pure coincidence? In my view, that was definitely not the case
Magistrate Norton Pang
In Tuesday’s ruling, Magistrate Norton Pang Leung-ting said Chan must have had taken part because he wore the same colour as other protesters, despite a lack of direct evidence showing his involvement in the demonstration.
“The defendant was wearing black when he was arrested. Could this be a pure coincidence? In my view, that was definitely not the case,” Pang said. “The defendant must have been among the enterprise who took part in causing obstruction to traffic at the scene.”
The defence counsel, however, cast doubt on such a finding, citing District Court Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on, who said the court should not make assumptions on a person’s role in a protest simply from his attire when he acquitted a trio of defendants of rioting during a demonstration on July 28 last year.
However, Magistrate Pang said he struggled to understand why Judge Kwok believed he could not draw the inference in the District Court case, adding that the judge’s remarks would not affect the present proceedings.
Pang dismissed allegations by the defence counsel that the officer had used unlawful force against Chan, after finding that the student had resisted arrest. He further ruled that Chan must have kept the Allen keys with intent to injure others, based on his involvement in the protest.
He will pass sentence on October 6, pending assessments on Chan’s suitability to be sent to a correctional facility.
In a separate case, a construction worker has been jailed for seven months for hurling a traffic cone at a police car during another protest in Mong Kok on October 31 last year.
In sentencing 38-year-old Wong Siu-cheong to jail over one count of criminal damage, Eastern Court Magistrate Winnie Lau Yee-wan said the defendant had endangered the safety of two police officers inside the vehicle and provoked violence against the force at the peak of the conflict that evening.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong protests and national security law: are the courts becoming politicised and are judgments biased?
- Hong Kong protests: 12-year-old sent to juvenile facility after admitting to tossing bamboo on MTR tracks and biting police officer
- Hong Kong protests: alleged Telegram channel administrator charged with inciting arson against police facilities, denied bail
This article Hong Kong protests: university student accused of blocking roads convicted based on his all-black outfit first appeared on South China Morning Post