Three Hong Kong men have been jailed for up to 5½ years for their roles in protests that ended with chaos at two railway stations during the 2019 anti-government unrest.
Two of the accused sentenced on Friday were convicted of rioting and assaulting railway passengers at Prince Edward MTR station on August 31, 2019, moments before police stormed the facility to make arrests. Video of the police operation went viral online and sparked public accusations of excessive use of force.
Former courier Lin Chun-hung, 22, was handed the heaviest sentence of 5½ years after he was found to have also vandalised the nearby Mong Kok MTR station before the mayhem at Prince Edward. Sports coach Cheuk Ka-ho, 27, was jailed for four years and 10 months.
The third defendant, 24-year-old associate degree holder Kan Tsz-pan, was jailed for eight months for joining an illegal gathering in Mong Kok in the lead-up to the confrontations underground.
Deputy District Judge Ivy Chui Yee-mei told West Kowloon Court that radical protesters had thrown residents into disarray as they inflicted serious damage to the transport system and caused immense nuisance to the public.
She said Lin and Cheuk had played an active role in the riots and exacerbated an already volatile situation.
“They have completely flouted law and order, bullying the weak and confusing what is right and wrong. They were presumptuous and unreasonable,” Chui said.
Kan had also encouraged others to confront police in an unlawful meeting, the judge continued, noting that the “seditious” slogans chanted by participants were capable of inciting hatred and widening the chasm in society.
The trio were among seven men prosecuted over a raft of charges in connection with the disturbance on the final day of August 2019.
One of the defendants was jailed for 40 months, while the other was sentenced to a training centre after both pleaded guilty to their respective charges. Two others absconded before the first court hearing in July 2020.
In proceedings last year, the court heard that unrest erupted in multiple districts on the day concerned after a number of unauthorised rallies morphed into stand-offs between protesters and police.
More than 100 masked protesters occupied a junction in Mong Kok at around 10pm and chanted slogans calling for the city’s liberation and the disbanding of police.
The unrest spilled to the nearby Mong Kok station as the force attempted to disperse the crowd. Radicals were said to have smashed surveillance cameras, glass windows and ticket machines, as well as spray-painted turnstiles and staff rooms.
Some protesters boarded a Tiu Keng Leng-bound train to evade law enforcement, only to later clash with commuters who accused them of obstructing train services.
Members of police’s Special Tactical Squad charged into Prince Edward station at about 11pm. Video footage online showed officers hitting and pepper spraying passengers who were crying and cowering on the ground.
The MTR Corporation reported a total loss of HK$1.1 million (US$140,520) in damages at the two railway facilities.
Lin was found guilty of five charges, including rioting, assault and criminal damage. Cheuk was convicted of rioting and two counts of assault, while Kan was found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly.