Five university students have been convicted of rioting and violating a ban on wearing masks at public gatherings over their roles in a violent confrontation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in November 2019. The five CUHK undergraduates were the second batch of defendants on trial over clashes that took place at the Sha Tin campus five months into that year’s anti-government protests . The violent stand-off on November 11 saw demonstrators cripple the Tolo Highway and the nearby MTR East Rail line by hurling objects from a bridge near the campus entrance. Police dispersed protesters later that day and cordoned off the crossing to prevent further disruptions. At around 1pm, about 30 black-clad protesters, most of whom had covered their faces with masks, respirators or scarfs, barricaded the road leading to the campus with bricks and miscellaneous objects. Some of them used a garbage truck as cover to hurl petrol bombs and other objects at police officers, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Four men – Lau Chun-yuk, 22, Ko Chi-pan, 23, Chan Lik-sik, 19, and Hui Yi-chuen, 21 – were arrested along with 23-year-old woman Foo Hoi-ching an hour later in the vicinity of the university’s Postgraduate Hall, which is located near the bridge. Police subsequently seized a screwdriver and the metal head of a hammer from Foo, and a spanner from Hui. The five were slapped with a joint count of rioting, with each charged with an additional count of using facial coverings during an unlawful assembly. Foo and Hui were also charged with possession of offensive weapons or instruments fit for unlawful purposes. Delivering her ruling at West Kowloon Court on Friday, Deputy District Judge Kathie Cheung Kit-yee held that the five students, who were all dressed similarly to other protesters, must have intended to remain on the scene and take part in the violence as there was no evidence the accused had become trapped in the stand-off. I rule that the defendants had, in terms of intended and actual effect, encouraged other protesters to commit a breach of the peace Deputy District Judge Kathie Cheung “According to the relevant legal principles, [it need not be shown that] the defendants had in fact committed acts that disturbed the peace,” Cheung said. “I rule that the defendants had, in terms of intended and actual effect, encouraged other protesters to commit a breach of the peace, including throwing petrol bombs and other objects at the police check line.” Lau, a first-year student majoring in engineering at the time of the offence, testified that he “feared” the disturbance, which took place near his dormitory, and was embroiled in the chaos when he was leaving the university via the bridge. When asked by his lawyer to explain his black attire that day, Lau said he had worn the colour during the social unrest to demonstrate his support for the protests, but stressed that he did not take part. Cheung rejected those claims, saying Lau would not have gone to the bridge marred by tear gas smoke and fire had he been genuinely afraid of being involved in the illegal gathering. The judge further convicted Foo and Hui of weapons possession, saying the defence had provided no proof that the seized items were related to school activities. The five have been remanded in custody until sentencing on October 19. Rioting is punishable by seven years in jail in the District Court. Four other tertiary students, including two CUHK undergraduates and one from Polytechnic University, previously stood trial over a confrontation at the same location on November 12, 2019. The CUHK undergraduate, 25-year-old Tang Hei-man, and vocational school student Cheung Chun-ho, 20, were found guilty of rioting and breaking the mask ban. They were jailed in July for 45 and 54 months, respectively. The other CUHK student, 23-year-old Chan Hey-hang, was jailed for two months for violating the mask ban that day, while Polytechnic University student Lee Chun-ho was cleared of rioting.