The first person to be prosecuted over violence in Prince Edward MTR Station during the social unrest in Hong Kong last year has been jailed for 12 months for possession of offensive weapons and unlicensed radio equipment.
Kowloon City Court sentenced Chung Yat-ki, 33, to prison for carrying a catapult, a bag of screw caps, a laser pointer and two sets of radio transceivers to a railway platform on the night of August 31, when radical anti-government protesters clashed with riot police, who stormed into the underground station to make arrests.
The clerk was convicted of one count of possessing offensive weapons in a public place, and one of possessing apparatus for radiocommunications without a licence, after Magistrate Andy Cheng Lim-chi dismissed claims the seized items were for work. He also fined Chung HK$5,000 over the licence charge.
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While ruling Chung had stayed inside the paid area of the station for a purpose – rather than changing trains as claimed by his brother – the magistrate said he could not conclude the defendant had planned to fight police with the weapons.
“Although there was no evidence to show the offensive weapons were related to the clashes at Prince Edward station, possessing the weapons alone already constitutes a very serious offence,” Cheng said.
He also rejected Chung’s application for temporary release pending an appeal.
The trial heard that Chung was inside the station when white smoke poured out of a train carriage bound for Tiu Keng Leng on the No 3 platform at 10.45pm.
Open source video footage played in court showed that passengers, some believed to be protesters, started arguing and fighting at the scene.
Riot police arrived at the scene 10 minutes later, and subdued the defendant inside the train after a chase. Officers found on the black-clad Chung the weapons, the transceivers and other protest paraphernalia.
While the defendant chose not to testify, his younger brother, Chung Yat-kit, who was also arrested but not charged, testified that the weapons and transceivers were related to Chung’s work for a manufacturing company in mainland China.
He said he and his brother were changing trains before the clashes broke out, having planned to travel from Hong Kong Island to Wong Tai Sin in eastern Kowloon for dessert.
However, the magistrate found the account untruthful, pointing out that Chung would have no need to carry work equipment around especially when he worked outside Hong Kong.
He also found it meaningless to carry screw caps when Chung did not keep any screws to be used with them. Instead, he said the hexagonal metal parts could be used as projectiles to shoot people with the catapult.
The magistrate further ruled that Chung could not have gone to the station just to change trains as he was seen in video footage remaining on the platform after services had been suspended.
“The only reasonable inference is that the (catapult, screw caps and laser pointer) were offensive weapons meant to be used to injure others,” Cheng said.
“The defendant lacked a reasonable defence.”
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