37 charged with rioting in Mongkok
THIRTY-SEVEN people involved in Hong Kong's mass unrest on Tuesday were charged yesterday with taking part in a riot, while another 16 were released on bail and 10 continued to be detained for further inquiries, the city's media reported.
These people and a 15-year-old who would be charged today separately in a juvenile court are the 64 protesters arrested following the overnight attack on police in the Mongkok district that started on Monday, reported Sing Tao Daily.
Derek Lam, a member of the Scholarism student group which aims to wrest democracy for Hong Kong from China, was not among the 37 charged following his widely reported arrest on Wednesday.
The 34 men and three women, aged between 17 and 70, were granted bail by the Kowloon magistrate's court, which also barred them from entering parts of Mongkok, reported the Oriental Daily.
The next hearing will be on April 7.
According to the prosecutor, the defendants will each face a fine of some HK$5,000 (S$890) and a jail term of five years if found guilty.
Among the defendants are Edward Leung, a Hong Kong University (HKU) philosophy student who is running for a legislative council seat in the New Territories East by-election, which will be held on Feb 28.
Indicted too were two other HKU students: Stephen Ku, editor-to-be of the institution's student magazine Undergrad, and Hui Ka Ki from the arts faculty.
Among the crowd that turned up to give support yesterday were several prominent activists, including Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong and HKU student union president Billy Fung.
Even Wong Yeung Tat of Civic Passion, which calls for Hong Kong independence, was seen outside the court.
Yesterday afternoon, Ray Wong, the 23-year-old convenor of Hong Kong Indigenous, said in his group's Facebook page that a large number of police officers had gathered near his home, apparently to arrest him.
According to Ming Pao Daily News, more than 20 people seized in Mongkok are from Hong Kong Indigenous, that promotes "localism" - which means keeping Hong Kong from the influence of China.
Wong had also uploaded an audio clip on to the page, in which he declared: "It's better to die with honour than survive in disgrace."
Wong had earlier denied, when approached by Ming Pao, that the riot had been premeditated and that he had ferried supplies to the hundreds of protesters during the 10-hour disturbance.
According to Hong Kong's pro-government media, Hong Kong Indigenous had deliberately stoked up a violent conflict with the police on the first day of Chinese New Year.
The group's interference to stop the authorities from removing some illegal hawkers was only a pretext, the media outlets said.
More than 130 people were injured in the riot, most of them policemen.