Edward Leung Tin-kei is escorted by Correctional Services officers in a prison van as he arrived at High Court for his sentence appeal in Hong Kong on Wednesday. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
Hong Kong’s top public prosecutor said on Wednesday the heavy punishment handed down to Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei last year for his role in the 2016 Mong Kok riot was condign.
Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin, with no relation to the defendant, made the argument at Hong Kong’s High Court over Edward Leung’s appeal of his six-year prison term for rioting and assaulting a police officer. Two of Edward Leung’s co-defendants also were in court to appeal their sentences.
All three were sentenced on June 11, 2018. The sentences are the heaviest imposed for rioting since the city’s return to China in 1997.
The court said on Wednesday it will hand down its decision on the appeals at a later date to be determined.
The Mong Kok riot, which took place on Feb 8-9, 2016, resulted in injuries to about 130 people, mostly police officers, as masked protesters tossed bricks and set trash cans on fire at the beginning of the Lunar New Year holiday.
During the hearing on Wednesday, David Leung played about an hour of video clips to demonstrate acts related to each accusation of Edward Leung, 28, and his two co-defendants, Lo Kin-man, 32, and Wong Ka-kui, 28, who were convicted of rioting and sentenced to seven years and three and half years respectively.
Arguing against the defendants’ appeal for reduced prison terms, the prosecutor pointed out that in addition to the defendants’ specific unlawful acts, the riot in its entirety should be considered. One must consider the scale and degree of violence, whether it’s premeditated, and the number of people involved, according to common principles for the sentence of rioting, he said.
David Leung further stated that the number of people involved largely outnumbered the police, and the scale of violence was “very serious”.
Even though certain offenses during the riot, such as arson, were not directly related to the defendants,they should be considered as background to identify the nature of the incident, he said.
Disputing the defendants’ argument that the riot was not premeditated, David Leung stressed that videos clearly showed many people in blue coats wielding weapons that were not randomly picked up on the streets.
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