Three people who were minors at the time of the 2019 protests have been sentenced to a training center after being convicted of rioting charges.
The trio – Fong Ming and Kwok Hei-tung, both aged 20, and Tang Yau-chiu, 19 – appeared in front of Judge Edmond Lee on Friday.
They were among 11 people found guilty in January of rioting in Wong Tai Sin on October 1, 2019, the city’s National Day public holiday, when protests erupted across the city as demonstrators took to the streets to “mourn” the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Lee said the riot in question was not large in scale, lasting for only around 40 minutes, and did not cause major transportation disruptions compared to other protest events. No police officers or citizens were hurt during the riot, he added, and there was no evidence suggesting that the three played a leadership role.
When handing down the sentences, Lee said the defendants, who were aged 16 to 18, were young at the time and their level of participation was low, InMedia reported. They also did not engage in violence, the judge added. Training center sentences are a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years, depending on conduct.
According to the defense, Tang, who was 16 during the protests, had not completed Form Six and hoped to continue his studies after finishing his sentence. He said he aspired to be a social worker.
Meanwhile, Fong – at the time a Form Six student – began studying for an associate’s degree in international business in 2020, but had to pause his studies because of the court case. The defense said he began paying attention to social events in 2019 and joined the protests because he was curious, underestimating the severity of a criminal charge.
And in a mitigation letter, Kwok said she was deeply regretful and wanted to apologize to those who had been affected. The defense said she took her secondary school leaving examinations in 2020 but did not achieve satisfactory results, and hoped to enroll in a private course to take the assessment again. She was 17 at the time.
Demonstrations erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill that would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behavior amid calls for democracy.
Around 10,250 arrests were made in connection with the protests.