Jurors in Mong Kok riot trial told to stick to facts and set aside personal opinions on Hong Kong politics
- Prosecutor Eric Kwok tells nine-person jury their views and past opinions should not influence how they judge the four defendants
Hong Kong prosecutors on Monday reminded jurors to set aside their political views in the trial of pro-independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei and three other men accused of rioting in Mong Kok almost three years ago.
Prosecutor Eric Kwok Tung-ming SC told the jury of four men and five women that they should not let their political views and past opinions influence how they judge the four defendants on trial in the High Court.
“Treat yourself as a blank piece of paper,” Kwok said. “Listen to each and every piece of the evidence presented to you to decide what the facts are and return a verdict consistent with the facts.”
Leung, 26, has pleaded not guilty to one joint count of rioting with his three co-defendants: Lee Nok-man, 21, Vincent Lam Ngo-hin, 23, and Yung Wai-yip, 34.
Yung also denied three further counts of rioting, and one each of taking part in an unlawful assembly, inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly, and assaulting a police officer.
Prosecutors are expected to call 57 witnesses and rely on video clips from the police, news outlets and social media, as well as closed-circuit television footage taken from cars and buildings in the popular shopping district, where the incidents took place.
With the help of a magnified map placed at the centre of the packed courtroom, the prosecutor guided the jury through events that started off as “an ordinary conflict” at Portland Street and sprawled into the neighbouring Argyle Street, Nathan Road, Shantung Street and Soy Street.
Kwok drew the jury’s attention to a social media post uploaded by a group known as Hong Kong Indigenous some time after 12pm on February 8, 2016, in which the author urged people to rally in Portland Street.
There, Kwok said, officers from the hawker control unit patrolled but did not take any enforcement action against hawkers present that evening.
“None of the hawker control unit officers interfered with the hawkers,” Kwok continued in his opening speech. “Nothing happened.”
But he said the calm was disrupted after 9pm when some people in blue shirts emblazoned with the words “Hong Kong Indigenous” helped the hawkers push their carts from an alley to the main road and attracted a growing crowd, who later blocked the street and led to a minor traffic accident.
“You would see them, hear them, insult the hawker control unit officers, demanding them to go away,” Kwok said. “The crowd became so big that police couldn’t get to the scene to handle the traffic accident.”
The trial continues before Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau.