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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Hong Kong protests: first aid volunteer jailed for 3½ years for rioting at PolyU

Hong Kong protests: first aid volunteer jailed for 3½ years for rioting at PolyU

Kenny Chung, 32, was among 17 people who engaged in six-minute battle with police at junction in Hung Hom.

A first aid volunteer was on Wednesday jailed for 3½ years over two rioting charges related to violent protests at a university in Hong Kong in late 2019, with the judge saying the man had been duped into believing his unofficial status would save him from prosecution.

Kenny Chung Man-tsun, 32, was found guilty last month of rioting inside Polytechnic University in Hung Hom and its vicinity on November 17 and 18, 2019.

He was among 17 people rounded up by police in the morning of November 18 that year inside the Hong Kong Science Museum, where the group tried to hide from officers.

Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi, passing sentence at the District Court, said the accused had given support to the riots inside and outside the university through his presence and tacit approval of the protesters’ violent conduct.

“I believe the defendant was [influenced] by the large number of [people] boasting and dramatising how these unpaid volunteers and paramedics enjoyed a certain extent of immunity from liability,” the judge said.

“The defendant must have realised afterwards that this was a sham, and that he had put his faith in the wrong people. Whether one has transgressed the law is not decided by those blowing their own trumpets on media platforms.”

The judge emphasised that Chung would not have been immune from prosecution even if he had been a qualified medic at the time of the offence.

Police spray protestors at PolyU with a water canon.

The court also imposed a HK$2,500 (US$318) fine on the defendant over a walkie-talkie he carried to the scene without a licence.

Chung, then a student at Union Hospital’s nursing academy, was among a group of 17 people who engaged in a six-minute battle with police at a junction near the museum.

Some of the crowd hurled petrol bombs and hard objects at officers, but the force was unable to identify who threw the projectiles.

The group entered the museum and tried to dump their protest equipment and change their clothing, but were arrested before they could do so.

Chung told the trial earlier this year that he had gone to PolyU on November 17, 2019, to help “innocent” people trapped inside the institution and get hands-on medical experience.

But Chan rejected the defence and said Chung had no obligation to offer voluntary medical services during a riot, especially when he had only started studying two months before the PolyU protests.

The defendant had worked at Union Hospital as a nurse since 2021, but resigned in December last year just before the start of the trial.

Seven other defendants who pleaded guilty in the same case, including three first aid volunteers, were sentenced to jail for up to 19 months or detention in a correctional facility.

Six others who were among the 17 arrested were also found guilty in a separate case of rioting inside and outside the university. Four of them were jailed for up to 53 months, and the two others were sentenced to correctional training.

Rioting is punishable by up to seven years in jail when the case is heard at the District Court.


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