Note to judge indicates Mong Kok riot trial jurors still undecided on some charges faced by Hong Kong localist Edward Leung
On Friday morning, jurors wrote to Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, asking whether they should inform her about charges they had reached a majority verdict over, suggesting others remain in the balance
The jury at the trial of Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei has dropped the biggest hint yet that they are undecided over the fate of the high-profile former student leader and his co-defendants over charges related to the Mong Kok riot in 2016.
On Friday morning, the nine jurors at the High Court wrote to Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, asking whether they should inform her about charges they had reached a majority verdict over, suggesting others remain in the balance.
“If we have yet to reach a majority verdict of 8-1 or 7-2 on some of the charges, should we inform you now?” they wrote. “Or should we do it in one go?”
Pang replied that they should take more time deliberating charges they had yet to touch on.
“Everyone needs to keep an open mind and listen,” she said, adding they should also express their views.
On Thursday, 16 hours after the jury cloistered themselves in a room to deliberate on a verdict in Leung’s riot trial, they posed a question to the judge presiding over the case.
“What is the definition of intent?” a note sent to Pang at 5pm on Thursday read.
Pang summoned the five men and four women back to the courtroom.
She told them: “Intent, this word, has no specific legal definition. This is a word used by people on a day-to-day basis.”
Pang instructed them to look at things the accused and his co-defendants in the case had done and said – or what they had failed to do and say – to determine their intent and their mental state when they committed the alleged offences.
The judge also stressed that they should not confuse “intent” with “motive”. She gave an example of a family member who might want to help en the life of a terminally ill loved one. Although the motive in such a situation would be to relieve the family member from further suffering, “the intent is still obviously to murder”, she explained.
Leung, 26, has been on trial since February. He denies one count of inciting others to take part in an overnight riot that gripped Mong Kok, a popular area in Hong Kong, on February 8 and 9 in 2016. The former spokesman of Hong Kong Indigenous further denies two counts of rioting in the same area where prosecutors said protesters repeatedly hurled bricks at police officers.
When he took to the witness box, Leung testified he was at the scene on the day because he wanted to protect the hawkers and the crowds gathered there.
His co-defendant – Lam Ngo-hin, 24, Lee Nok-man, 22, and Lo Kin-man, 31 – have also pleaded not guilty to one count of rioting, while Lam also denies taking part in an assembly during the chaos, where protesters set fires in the streets and hurled bricks at police. Another co-defendant, Lam Lun-hing, 26, pleaded not guilty to three counts of rioting.
The jury began its deliberations at 11.30am on Wednesday, but failed to reach an agreement, resulting in their spending the night in accommodation provided by the High Court in Admiralty. They are not allowed outside contact until they have reached a decision.
On Thursday, they picked up where they left off, and at 8pm, soon after her response to their question, Pang instructed them to get some rest.
But the jurors wrote back and said they wanted to deliberate for another hour, adding they would like to continue their discussion.
“Can we?” they wrote. Pang agreed and the group wrapped up their meeting just after 9pm to spend their second night at the High Court building.