Judge hands down 36-month terms, sends 19-year-old to training center
The District Court sentenced two people to three years in prison on Monday for involvement in a riot in Mong Kok district on Lunar New Year’s Eve in 2016.
Law Ho-yin, 21 and Lin Yun-faat, 26, were convicted in July of rioting.
The judge also ordered Chris Yung Tsz-hin, 19, to be held in a training center.
In handing down the sentences, Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che said that in a densely populated city with busy traffic like Hong Kong, a riot could spread very quickly and have severe consequences. He added that when the Mong Kok incident took place, hundreds of people congregated and confronted police, which could severely disrupt social order and put public safety at risk.
The court was told that Lin threw bricks at police while the other two stood at the front in a standoff with police and held glass bottles.
Although there was no photographic evidence that Yung and Law threw the bottles at the officers, evidence showed intent to attack, Yiu said.
The judge said that considering how the actions of the three had added to the massive riot, and taking into account previous sentences, the appropriate penalty for the current case should start at 42 months.
However, Yiu sentenced Law and Lin to 36 months, saying that there was no direct evidence that Law would have attacked the police officers, and citing Lin’s good background as a mitigating factor.
Meanwhile, Yiu sent Yung to the training center, saying there was no direct evidence that the 19-year-old attacked police and noting that rehabilitation is critical for Yung because of his age.
Training centers are an alternative for offenders between 14 and 21 years old. It emphasizes reform and prevention of future crimes. The duration of detentions in training centers is determined by the commissioner and can run from six months to three years.
The riot, which hit the popular Hong Kong tourist spot of Mong Kok late at night on the first day of 2016’s Lunar New Year, involved protesters throwing bricks and setting fire to public facilities. More than 100 police officers and at least four reporters were injured.
The police have so far arrested 90 people — 79 men and 11 women — in connection with the riot. They face charges ranging from rioting to arson and illegal assembly, and assaulting and resisting police officers. To date, nine have been convicted.