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Hong Kong protests: 5 university students found guilty of rioting, violating mask ban at 2019 Chinese University demonstration

September 3, 2021 GMT

Five university students have been convicted of rioting and violating a Hong Kong ban on wearing masks at public gatherings over their roles in a violent confrontation at Chinese University (CUHK) in November 2019.

The five CUHK undergraduates were the second batch of defendants on trial over clashes that took place at the Sha Tin campus five months into that year’s anti-government protests.

The violent stand-off arose from citywide protests on November 11 that saw demonstrators cripple the Tolo Highway and the nearby MTR East Rail Line by hurling objects from a bridge near the CUHK campus entrance. Police dispersed protesters later that day and cordoned off the crossing to prevent further disruptions.

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At around 1pm, about 30 black-clad protesters, most of whom had covered their faces with masks, respirators or scarfs, barricaded the road leading to the campus with bricks and miscellaneous objects.

Some of them used a garbage truck as cover to hurl petrol bombs and other objects at police officers, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Four men ” Lau Chun-yuk, 22, Ko Chi-pan, 23, Chan Lik-sik, 19, and Hui Yi-chuen, 21 ” were arrested along with 23-year-old woman Foo Hoi-ching an hour later in the vicinity of the university’s Postgraduate Hall, which is located near the bridge.

Police subsequently seized a screwdriver and the metal head of a hammer from Foo, and a spanner from Hui.

The five were slapped with a joint count of rioting, with each charged with an additional count of using facial coverings during an unlawful assembly. Foo and Hui were also charged with possession of offensive weapons or instruments fit for unlawful purposes.

Delivering her ruling at West Kowloon Court on Friday, Deputy District Judge Kathie Cheung Kit-yee held that the five students, who were all dressed similarly to other protesters, must have intended to remain on the scene and take part in the violence as there was no evidence the accused had become trapped in the stand-off.

“According to the relevant legal principles, (it needs not be shown that) the defendants had in fact committed acts that disturbed the peace,” Cheung said.

“I rule that the defendants had, in terms of intended and actual effect, encouraged other protesters to commit a breach of the peace, including throwing petrol bombs and other objects at the police check line.”

The judge further convicted Foo and Hui of weapons possession, saying the defence had provided no proof that the seized items were related to school activities.

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The five have been remanded in custody until sentencing on October 19. Rioting is punishable by seven years in jail in the District Court.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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