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Mong Kok riot

Hong Kong hygiene officer in Edward Leung trial tells of being cornered and beaten by angry Mong Kok mob

Testimony describes clash leading up to the night of violence at the start of Lunar New Year in 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 7:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 10:20pm

A Hong Kong hygiene officer was cornered, beaten up and kicked by a mob in a lead-up to the violent Mong Kok riot in 2016, the court heard in a high-profile trial involving pro-independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei on Wednesday.

Leung and four other co-defendants are accused of joining the riot or being part of unlawful assemblies on the night of February 8 and the following morning – the first day of Lunar New Year – at the popular shopping hub two years ago.

Hawker control officer Lau Hong-ying testified at the High Court that he sprained his left ring finger while fending off a crowd that had closed in on him in the incident.

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“Some of them snatched my cap. Some also attacked me with their hands and kicked my leg,” Lau said, recalling how he was surrounded at one point.

His comments were part of his account of what happened soon after 9pm that night on Portland Street, where skirmishes between a crowd and hawker control officers began to unfold.

Prosecutors said in their opening speech that the incident sparked further violence in the area, eventually descending into chaos as protesters threw objects such as bricks and clashed with police along Argyle Street, Shantung Street and Fa Yuen Street.

Leung, a member of pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, was accused of provoking the crowd around midnight near where Lau claimed to be attacked.

Last month, Leung denied one count of inciting others to riot and two further counts of rioting, but admitted to one count of assaulting a police officer.

Lau said after he arrived at Portland Street that night, he heard people in the crowd cursing. Some were clad in blue jackets with white Chinese characters on them. Other hawker control officers had earlier testified that they saw people in similar attire bearing the name of Leung’s group.

“I told them to calm down. But they pushed towards me,” Lau said. “They had lost control of their emotions.”

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He said he was soon backed into a corner, where he was hit and kicked in the right leg. He sprained his finger when he defended himself, while some people in front helped him fend off the crowd in an assault that lasted for a minute.

Lau described the scene as chaotic, saying that he eventually managed to leave, but some people still tried to snatch his cap and face mask.

Acting senior hawker control officer Hau Ying-cheung said he was also at the scene with two other colleagues. Hau said they were followed and charged at by a hawker wheeling his cart, as they filmed the incident.

Four other co-defendants – Lam Lun-hing, Lam Ngo-hin, Lee Nok-man and Lo Kin-man – denied a string of riot charges, while Lam Ngo-hin also pleaded not guilty to a further count of taking part in an unlawful assembly.

The trial continues before Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam on Thursday.