A man was jailed for a year on Thursday over the possession of petrol bombs, the first sentence for such offences since anti-government protests erupted in Hong Kong in June last year.
The sentencing of Lau Ka-pak, an unemployed 22-year-old, was part of a series of several protest-related cases handled by Kwun Tong, West Kowloon and Eastern courts in the city on Thursday.
Lau was caught carrying two petrol bombs alongside other weapons during a demonstration in October.
He pleaded guilty to one count of possession of offensive weapons in a public place at Kwun Tong Court. Under Section 33 of the Public Order Ordinance, a custodial sentence is the only sentencing option for such offenders aged between 17 and 25.
The defence counsel pleaded for leniency, saying that Lau had reflected deeply on his actions during his remand, and that he felt he should have expressed his views in a rational and peaceful manner.
But acting principal magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei said a deterrent sentence was inevitable. She also said evidence showed that the defendant had intended to endanger public safety although no one was seriously injured in the case.
“The two petrol bombs possessed by the defendant were undoubtedly very destructive weapons, which could shatter lives and properties in an instant,” Chui said.
The court heard that demonstrators flocked to the residential town of Tseung Kwan O on October 13, set up barricades on roads, and set fires on major carriageways as part of an unlawful protest.
At around 4.30pm, police officers arrived at the scene to clear the crowds. The defendant, who was identified by officers as one of the protesters, attempted to flee but was subdued after a chase.
Another protester, Polytechnic University student Ng Chun-wai, 22, was tried on Thursday at West Kowloon Court over possessing materials used to produce petrol bombs.
He denied possessing a hammer, a can of lighter fluid and a glass bottle clogged with a piece of cloth when he was arrested outside Mong Kok Police Station on September 21.
Defence lawyer Douglas Kwok King-hin told the court his client had been framed by police, as Ng suspected officers put the prohibited items inside his rucksack when he was taken inside the station.
Ng also alleged officers had faked his signature in a document, where he purportedly allowed police to check his phone to look for evidence.
According to the prosecution, about 30 black-clad masked protesters gathered outside the police station at 8pm and attempted to occupy parts of Nathan Road and paint graffiti on the walls of the police facility.
Ng was apprehended at 9.35pm during a crowd dispersal operation.
Kwok told magistrate Winnie Lau Yee-wan that when Ng was taken to the police station, an officer hit him in the left eye with his baton, causing swelling and intense pain. Ng then felt “someone was touching his bag”.
The trial continues on Friday.
Separately at Eastern Court, 11 men and women were released on bail after appearing before magistrate Lam Tsz-kan to face charges of taking part in unlawful assembly, assaulting police and possessing offensive weapons.
They included Wayne Chan Ka-kui, 29, convenor of the Students Independence Union. The youngest person charged was only 13 years old.
Chan was charged with one count of taking part in an unlawful assembly on Gloucester Road. He was arrested in Wan Chai in the small hours of June 10, following a march to protest against the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong police find six jerry cans of petrol on hillside for use as firebombs to ‘cause panic and chaos’ at new year events
- Hong Kong police search for six people believed to have set fire outside Lai Chi Kok government offices after petrol bombs found at the scene
- Hong Kong police officer who stopped students over protest posters admits he did not follow correct procedures
This article Man jailed for a year over possession of petrol bombs during Hong Kong protests first appeared on South China Morning Post