Guilty plea from Hong Kong designer who burned cardboard, hurled bottles in Mong Kok riot
- Sentencing to come at end of his co-defendants’ 70-day trial over unrest in 2016 that escalated from protest directed at crackdown on illegal hawkers
A young Hong Kong designer on Thursday admitted that he took part in the Mong Kok riot two years ago, during which he burned cardboard and hurled bottles, a rubbish bin and a potted plant at police.
Yuen Chi-kui, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of rioting and one of arson on his first day of trial with Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei, 26, technician Vincent Lam Ngo-hin, 23, delivery worker Yung Wai-yip, 34, and Lee Nok-man, 21, who is unemployed.
His four co-defendants have denied seven charges of rioting, assaulting police, unlawful assembly and incitement to unlawful assembly.
The unrest escalated in the busy commercial area in Kowloon as crowds gathered to protest a crackdown on illegal street food hawkers.
Rioting in Hong Kong is punishable by 10 years in jail.
Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau will sentence Yuen at the end of his co-defendants’ 70-day trial.
The High Court heard the case centred on a public assembly at Portland Street in Mong Kok on Lunar New Year on February 8, 2016, during which police issued repeated warnings for the crowds to return to the pavement, but to no avail.
Among them stood Yuen, who was caught on camera on 14 occasions, dressed in an all-black outfit with a matching backpack and a white face mask.
Prosecutor Eric Kwok Tung-ming SC said Yuen was first spotted at the back of a white van parked at Portland Street just before 1am on February 9, holding a white metallic rod.
He was next seen hurling a water bottle at a police cordon in a stand-off at the junction of Portland Street and Shantung Street.
With a shield in his hand, Yuen kicked a rubbish bin towards the cordon and hurled a potted plant at the officers.
Minutes later, he answered localist Ray Wong Toi-yeung’s call to charge at the cordon and repeatedly jabbed his rod in the officers’ direction.
He also taunted police while wielding a bamboo stick.
At least three officers were injured in the confrontation.
The police cordon at Shantung Street eventually collapsed at 4.12am after protesters threw a large number of hard objects, including bricks.
But the officers’ retreat did not stop the attack.
Yuen was seen throwing a silver metallic bottle at officers at about 4.15am.
He also erected a barricade using various items.
At 7.15am, he joined 50 protesters at another barricade near Sai Yee Street and twice added cardboard to a pile of burning rubbish in the middle of the road.
CCTV footage showed Yuen eventually returned home at Po Tat Estate in Sau Mau Ping at 9.24am wearing the same clothes as shown in the videos.
Police arrested him on February 27, 2016.
Meanwhile, Yung faces the bulk of the charges. He denied four counts of riot, and one each of assaulting police, unlawful assembly and incitement to unlawful assembly.
The remaining defendants – Leung, Lam and Lee – pleaded not guilty to a joint count of rioting that allegedly took place at Portland Street.
Their trial continues.