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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong localist Edward Leung ‘sorry’ for assaulting police officers during Mong Kok riot

Former Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman tells court he did not intend to use violence but let anger get the better of him

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 2:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 11:34pm

Hong Kong localist activist Edward Leung Tin-kei told a court on Wednesday that he “felt very sorry” for assaulting police officers during the Mong Kok riot on the Lunar New Year two years ago.

Leung’s apology came as he explained to a jury on his second day of testimony that he had never intended to use violence when he went to the popular shopping district on February 8, 2016 in support of local hawkers.

He had allowed anger to get the better of him, and “felt very sorry about it”, he said.

The former Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman, 26, is on trial with four other men on charges of rioting and inciting others to take part in a riot. He earlier pleaded guilty to a separate count of assaulting police.

Hong Kong localist Edward Leung tells Mong Kok riot trial he acted out of duty to protect hawkers and crowds

The High Court previously heard that Leung threw the top part of a rubbish bin in the direction of some officers and attacked a sergeant with a plastic bottle and a wooden board, leaving the policeman with a swollen ear and cuts on his knees.

Two years on, Leung said he had reflected on the events and had been reminded of the principle, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

“It was a simple principle,” Leung said. “If I did not want to be treated with violence, I should not have inflicted violence on others.”

But he was stopped from making further comments as Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam noted they were irrelevant to the issues disputed in the trial.

Prosecutor Eric Kwok Tung-ming SC pointed out that Leung had used foul language against the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s (FEHD) hawker control officers. Leung agreed.

A video played in court showed throngs of masked men and women, including members of Leung’s group, swearing and demanding FEHD officers and the police leave and let the hawkers sell their wares.

If I did not want to be treated with violence, I should not have inflicted violence on others
Edward Leung

Kwok also drew Leung’s attention to a post on his group’s Facebook page dated February 7, 2016, calling for readers to “valiantly defend” the street vendors.

Leung said: “I did not publish this. I saw this afterwards.”

When Kwok then showed him a video of the crowds pushing against officers to prevent police from advancing, Leung testified that he had not witnessed the scene at the time.

“I believe you would agree there was a breach of peace,” the prosecutor said.

Leung disagreed. But he agreed the crowds had at times blocked cars from turning onto Portland Street, where the hawkers had gathered, and obstructed other road users, presenting a problem that required police handling.

The prosecutor further suggested that the people gathered might have broken a number of laws, as unlicensed hawkers set up stalls while revellers obstructed roads.

But Leung said the authorities should not have taken action because, as he understood it, there was an unspoken agreement within the community that such hawkers could do business during Lunar New Year.

“This is Hong Kong’s local culture,” he said. “I think there is no problem with that.” 

Kwok pressed on: “You believe there is no problem with breaking the law, or possibly breaking the law, to achieve your purpose of safeguarding the characteristics of street hawking?”  

“I didn’t think there was no problem,” Leung replied. “Legally, one could be prosecuted. That is the consequence; the price to pay.”  

“But you did so anyway,” Kwok continued. “Was it because you believed you could achieve justice by breaking the law?” 

Leung said it was not. His testimony was scheduled to continue on Thursday.