Hong Kong localist Edward Leung accused of using parade as ‘smokescreen’ to defy police during Mong Kok riot
Former Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman had earlier said he meant to use his election parade as a buffer between police and the crowds to protect members of the public
Hong Kong prosecutors on Thursday accused localist Edward Leung Tin-kei of using his election parade in Mong Kok on Lunar New Year two years ago as a smokescreen to defy police action.
But the former Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman told the High Court on his third day of testimony against rioting and incitement charges: “I disagree. I absolutely disagree.”
The parade in question for the Legislative Council by-election on February 8, 2016, was announced soon after police sent reinforcements to the popular shopping district, where many revellers had gathered around unlicensed street hawkers.
A video played in court showed Leung, then a candidate in the New Territories East constituency, speaking through a megaphone: “This is an election parade. There are no more than 30 people in [Hong Kong Indigenous’] blue garments … we have the right to do this.”
He had explained in his earlier testimony that he meant to use his parade as a buffer between the police and the crowds to protect members of the public.
But prosecutor Eric Kwok Tung-ming SC on Thursday called the parade “a smokescreen” as he observed there was no record of Ray Wong Toi-yeung, the group’s other spokesman, mentioning the election that night in his public speeches and liaison with police.
Hong Kong localist Edward Leung tells Mong Kok riot trial he acted out of duty to protect hawkers and crowds
“Didn’t you think the best way to protect the public was for them to follow police advice to leave?” Kwok asked.
“Of course nothing would happen if they had left,” Leung replied. “But I also didn’t want those who were eating at the scene to be deprived of skewering fish balls due to forceful law enforcement. These people have been doing this every year. Why on this date of this year were they prohibited from doing so by fully armed officers? I felt it was unreasonable.”
Kwok then gestured Leung to look at a blurred screenshot of the scene taken from a video showing hundreds of people outside Langham Place after midnight. “How many people were skewering fish balls? Can you count?” the prosecutor asked.
Leung stared at the small computer screen in front of him. “I can’t,” he replied.
Kwok argued that Leung and his group had rallied people to the scene and stayed behind to defy police law enforcement.
But Leung countered: “It was not my intention to challenge police action. My intention was to organise the parade. The police could come disperse us.”
When asked why he then answered to Wong’s call to charge at police, Leung said: “I felt it was impossible for everyone to charge while I remained on the spot. At that juncture, I did not think much.”
“I put it to you that you are not telling the truth,” Kwok said. “You are just finding excuses for your use of violence.”
“I disagree,” Leung replied. “I am explaining to you my mentality at the time. The charge is meaningless, it was actually sending [people] to die. Police certainly had the capacity to disperse us.”
Leung was arrested about an hour after he announced the parade.
His testimony continues on Friday before Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam.