A record number of more than 200 defendants charged in connection with the protests outside the besieged Polytechnic University on Monday were brought to six courts across Hong Kong on Wednesday. The unprecedented arrangement saw magistrates sitting from 9.30am until 12.40am the following morning, while lawyers, reporters and the families, friends and supporters of the defendants moved between courts to see them, with some finding themselves in the wrong building due to miscommunication. Some 213 defendants were among the 1,100 people arrested, surrendered or had their information recorded by police at Polytechnic University in Hung Hom and its surrounding areas on Monday, a day after officers besieged the campus, trapping hundreds of protesters, volunteers and first-aiders inside. Thousands of people had gathered in areas around the university – Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan and Yau Ma Tei – on Monday evening. Most were arrested for rioting offences which could result in a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. A handful were also accused of possessing offensive weapons or instruments – such as petrol bombs, scissors and kerosene – fit for an unlawful purpose. They were sent to all but one of the city’s seven lowest criminal courts, while dozens remained in hospital. At Kowloon City Court, queuing stanchions were set up outside the building, where hundreds showed up in support of the 60 defendants divided across three courtrooms. Those who did not arrive in time for a ticket to the small courtrooms filled up the lobbies on several floors to wait for news. But it was not until 7.30pm that police brought up the first batch of defendants who were supposed to appear in the afternoon. The 60 cases brought to Kowloon City Court consisted of 50 men and 10 women, aged between 16 and 35, accused of rioting at the junction of Nathan Road and Waterloo Road in Yau Ma Tei. Court documents revealed that many of them were students, while others were researchers, teachers, designers, salespersons, restaurant workers, businessmen and workers in the transport and construction sectors. Are Hong Kong’s universities becoming ‘weapons factories’? Prosecutors did not ask for plea nor did they object to the defendants’ bail, so long as they remained in Hong Kong, obeyed a travel ban and a curfew and did not set foot in the area around the location of the alleged offence. Defence counsel Hectar Pun Hei SC said one of his eight clients, Hung Chu-lung, a 21-year-old university student accused of rioting, had asked to see his lawyers and doctors for injuries he sustained during arrest, when police officers allegedly kicked his hand and struck his limbs with a baton after he had already been subdued. But Hung waited 15 hours for legal advice and never got to receive medical attention before he was brought to court, Pun said. Some 13 of another 15 people arrested at the same junction were taken to Kwun Tong Court, which granted each of them a HK$5,000 (US$638) bail with the condition that they would remain in Hong Kong, live at their reported addresses and return to the court next year. Two people did not show up as they were in hospital. Some were sent across the harbour to Eastern Court, which also saw defendants who had been arrested outside Diocesan Girls’ School on Gascoigne Road. How Hong Kong radicals got boxed in by police at PolyU At West Kowloon Court, where 80 people faced rioting charges in four separate cases, some 100 supporters crowded a floor outside two courtrooms as they were not allowed inside and could only watch a live broadcast in the concourse. All seats in the public gallery of the courtrooms had been reserved for the defendants’ families and members of the press. Another 100 supporters queued on a lower floor waiting to hear the results of the first round of hearings, which had yet to start as of print time. The Judiciary declined to comment on why the 213 defendants were taken to different courts though they were all from the same case.