Bittersweet court win in rioting case

Top News | Maisy Mok 30 Sep 2020

Maisy Mok

Social worker Jackie Chen Hung-sau walked free after a district court judge ruled there was no case for her to answer over a riot charge last August in Wan Chai.

Justice Sham Siu-man said there was inadequate evidence to show the 42-year-old participated in an illegal assembly, let alone a riot.

Chen, a council member of the Social Workers' General Union, did not have to defend herself and was released immediately yesterday.

She and seven other defendants faced a rioting charge over a protest on Hennessy Road and Luard Road in Wan Chai last August 31.

The seven included self-employed Yu Tak-wing, 24, student Lai Pui-ki, 23, engineer Chung Ka-nang, 27, unemployed Kan Ka-hong, 19, unemployed Leung Ngan-pan, 25, cook Jason Gung Hung-sau, 23, and Mok Ka-ching, 24.

Gung, who was allegedly found carrying an extendable baton and a suspected Molotov cocktail, faced an additional charge for the possession of offensive weapons in public places.

All eight pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Sham ruled yesterday that aside from Chen, the rest have a case to answer. Their cases continue next Thursday.

Speaking outside the court, Chen said she was emotional after the ruling and wanted to cry while leaving the courtroom.

Chen was quite surprised by the court's decision, saying, "I never thought this would happen. It's so difficult to overthrow the Department of Justice's prosecution."

However, she said she felt conflicted, as the seven other defendants still face charges and she understood the immense pressure and struggles they are going through.

Chen emphasized that she has always adhered to the principles of social workers and did not interfere with police operations.

"Even if Hong Kong's situation is worrying and the judicial system cannot be trusted, there are still lawyers and judicial officers who defend and uphold the rule of law," Chen said.

She said the ruling showed that police should not arrest people who work as monitoring figures, such as reporters and human rights groups, at protests.

In the opening statement, the prosecutor accused Chen of hindering police operations and giving protesters more time to leave the scene.

Chen was not the only social worker to be arrested for involvement in the protests.

Lau Ka-tung was sentenced to a year on June 17 in a Fan Ling court on a count of obstructing a police officer at a demonstration in Yuen Long last July 27.

Another social worker, Lam Hiu-wa, 22, was found not guilty on a count of obstructing an officer and another of refusing to present identification documents to officers at an anti-government clash in Tsuen Wan last August 25.

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