Tourist jailed for helping fuel rubbish bin fire at Hong Kong protest
Dutchman told magistrate he threw paper onto the fire to mark his disapproval with Beijing.
A tourist who threw paper onto a burning rubbish bin that was ignited during a Hong Kong anti-government protest
has been jailed for four months.
Kowloon City Court heard that Edgar Willem Aart De Bruin helped fuel the fire at a Mong Kok roadblock on February 29 to register his discontent with the Chinese government.
The 32-year-old Dutch national was among 115 people arrested that night, when hardcore protesters hurled petrol bombs and set fire to barricades as part of a regular show of anger against police conduct at Prince Edward railway station on August 31 last year.
De Bruin was drunk when he dumped pages torn from two magazines onto the fire at the junction of Shantung Street and Sai Yee Street at 11.43pm, the court was told.
Following his arrest the next day, he told police: “I just assist [the protesters] to set fire there because I disagree with the Chinese government.”
The Dutchman was in the city on a tourist visa and planned to teach English at a kindergarten, but a contract offer he received was rescinded after his prosecution.
He pleaded guilty last month to one count of arson, which is punishable by two years in prison when cases are heard at a magistrates’ court.
Co-defendant Tang Chun-keung, a 43-year-old former merchandising manager at a sports equipment company, admitted the same charge.
In Monday’s mitigation, the defence counsel said De Bruin had committed the offence out of “weak consequential thinking” because he was intoxicated at the time, stressing the fire was well contained in the middle of the road and posed no imminent danger to life and property.
However, Magistrate Leung Ka-kie said the offence was serious in nature and warranted a deterrent sentence. She set a starting point of six months in jail for each defendant, taking two months off to reflect their guilty pleas.
The pair, who have been held on remand for 3½ months, are expected to be released soon.