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Two HK teens sentenced for riot chaos

By CHEN SHUMAN and XI TIANQI in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-08-13 07:26
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Duo involved in 2019 unrest that led to 70-year-old's demise got 5.5 years each

Two Hong Kong teenagers were sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail each on Friday, for participating in a street riot that led to the death of an elderly man in 2019.

The 70-year-old cleaner Luo Changqing died after being hit in the head by a brick during unlawful protests outside North District Town Hall in Sheung Shui on Nov 13, 2019, according to the police.

The two men convicted, Chan Yin-ting, 18, and Kelvin Lau Tszlung, 19, were arrested after the riot.

They were initially charged with three offenses-rioting, murdering Luo in the clash, and intentionally wounding another elderly man who was helping to clear roadblocks during the incident. Due to the lack of evidence against them, the duo were cleared of the two latter charges and only found guilty of rioting.

Handing down the sentence on Friday, Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping determined that "a sentence that would act as a deterrent was needed, as the riot, which aimed to vandalize the city, was serious in essence and resulted in tragic consequences".

Toh pointed out that the two defendants responded to online incitement to violence and planned to bring a hammer, which showed a certain level of premeditation.

At the same time, residents who volunteered to clear the roadblocks were prevented from doing so by black-clad protesters, which led to the clashes and the death of Luo, Toh added.

A group of black-clad activists attempted to paralyze the area by prying up bricks and erecting barricades and later clashed with residents trying to remove the obstacles. Both sides hurled bricks at each other, according to court findings. Luo was hurt as he was filming the scene on his mobile phone.

Toh set a starting point of six years imprisonment, before knocking off half a year in light of the defendants' remorse and the lack of proper adult supervision, which had resulted in their inability to anticipate the disastrous consequences of their actions.

Following the sentencing, Toh described the residents who had attempted to clear the roadblocks as unsung heroes. They acted bravely and not for personal gain, which reflected the spirit of Hong Kong, she said. The judge also voiced her appreciation for efforts by the police to investigate the case.

Luo's death drew citywide attention in 2019. Many residents visited the North District Town Hall to pay tribute, and police offered a reward of HK$800,000 for information leading to his killers.

According to Cap. 245 Public Order Ordinance, anyone convicted of taking part in a riot is liable to a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

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