Protesters have their day in court

Local | Jane Cheung 9 Oct 2019

Fourteen people were charged with rioting and wearing a face mask yesterday in the second batch of protesters charged under the new anti-mask law.

The 14 were among 26 people charged with rioting in connection to clashes in Wan Chai on Sunday against the anti-mask law invoked through colonial-era emergency legislation.

Sixteen appeared in West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts before Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak at a rare evening hearing as 10 remained in hospital.

The 14 men and 12 women, aged between 13 and 33, include 14 students, a social worker, an education consultant and a designer.

The 13-year-old secondary schoolboy is the youngest to be prosecuted for rioting since the unrest began in June.

Fourteen of them were charged with using facial covering to "prevent identification at an unlawful assembly without lawful authority or reasonable excuse."

The prosecution said 10 used gas masks or cloth to cover their faces and four others wore face masks.

The court was told that police seized corrosive acid from student protester Leung Yiu-man, 20, and suspected "smoke-emitting pellets" from four other defendants.

The prosecution did not oppose releasing the defendants on bail, except for Leung.

No plea was taken and the case was adjourned to January 6 next year.

Some defense lawyers told the court that officers demanded their clients take off most of their clothes and jump five times during the body search and that some officers prevented them from calling their families and lawyers.

Offenders of the anti-mask law face up to one year in jail and a HK$25,000 fine. Rioting carries up to 10 years in jail.

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