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Crime in Hong Kong

Mitigation hearing begins for Mong Kok rioter Edward Leung, who veteran Hong Kong politician describes as one of his generation’s ‘finest’

Margaret Ng’s letter among 11 written in support of pro-independence campaigner who is facing up to 10 years behind bars

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 4:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 June, 2018, 12:10pm

Pro-independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei, who faces 10 years behind bars for his part in the Mong Kok riot, has been hailed as one of his generation’s “finest” in a letter of mitigation written by former lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee.

Ng praised the 26-year-old student, who will be sentenced on June 11, as a rare talent, equipped with an in-depth, rational and analytical mind, one he used in a passionate pursuit of his ideals and social justice.

“What is particularly rare is that he would reflect on himself … [He] does not shy away from results and responsibilities,” the veteran politician wrote.

Leung was found guilty at the High Court on Friday of rioting, and had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer during the outbreak of violence on February 9, 2016.

In a mitigation hearing on Monday, his lawyer Edwin Choy responded to Ng’s letter, which described Leung as having “the generation’s finest potential”.

Choy said: “Leung will certainly not give up on Hong Kong after his incarceration.”

The localist’s early plea to assault, and his expression of remorse for his actions during the trial, showed Leung to be a man who did not shirk responsibility, his lawyer said.

Mong Kok riot: how the five men now on trial allegedly caused chaos

“It’s the people of my generation who truly shirked away from responsibility,” Choy said. “What happened today was more or less caused by my generation.”

Others who wrote in Leung’s mitigation included his father and sister, the retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Rodney Elton, the British peer, Geoffrey Nice QC, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, University of Surrey politics professor Malte Kaeding, and former student union president Billy Fung Jing-en.

The 11 letters presented to court painted Leung as a kind, passionate, helpful, responsible and generous man.

Choy also asked Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam to take into account Leung’s lack of premeditation, and argued that punishment for the two offences should be carried out concurrently as the assault was part and parcel of his rioting.

The court also heard mitigation for Ken Lo Kin-man, 31, and Wong Ka-Kui, 27. Lo was convicted on Friday, while Wong pleaded guilty to the same charge before the start of the 54-day trial.

“No one is best placed to talk about the riot because there was no independent inquiry in the aftermath of such a big event,” said Lawrence Lau, Lo’s counsel.

Mong Kok riot ‘changed city’s political landscape forever’

Lau said his client had apologised for his conduct, which stemmed from the police violence he witnessed during the Occupy protests, and caused him to see officers as part of the pro-establishment machine.

Meanwhile, Wong’s counsel, Thomas Iu, said his client had acted in the heat of the moment when he hurled a foam box at police when he saw them dispersing crowds after his dinner in Mong Kok.

Iu stressed that no one was injured by his client.

All three men had no criminal record before their arrests in 2016.

The trio will be sentenced on June 11, before prosecutors announce their decision on whether to pursue another rioting charge involving Leung and co-defendants Lee Nok-man, 21, and Lam Ngo-hin, 23, which the jury could not decide on.