44 Hong Kong protesters appear in court to face rioting charges, Latest World News - The New Paper

44 Hong Kong protesters appear in court to face rioting charges

This article is more than 12 months old

HONG KONG: For their role in a recent protest that turned violent, 44 people appeared in a Hong Kong court yesterday and were charged with rioting. On the day of the incident, thousands of activists had clashed with police near Beijing's main representative office in the city.

Many of those charged are students, the youngest being a 16-year-old girl. The rest include a pilot, a teacher, a nurse and a chef, TVB reported. One of them faced an additional charge of assaulting police.

A wave of protests that began in late April have plunged the former British colony into its biggest political crisis since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

This is the first time that the authorities in the financial hub have resorted to using the rioting charge, and it could infuriate activists who have been demanding that the government avoid using the term "riot" to refer to the demonstrations.

Under Hong Kong law, rioting is defined as an unlawful assembly of three or more people where any person "commits a breach of the peace", and a conviction can carry a 10-year prison sentence.

Hundreds gathered outside the court house chanting "revolution of our time" and "liberate Hong Kong" as the defendants appeared in court.

"I'm not scared to protest. This whole thing today is just making me more angry," said Mr Gartner, a 21-year-old protester outside the court who declined to give his full name.

"I don't think it will scare people."

Nine of the defendants had been released on bail of HK$1,000 (S$175) by noon.

They were ordered to remain in Hong Kong and a curfew was imposed on them between midnight and 6am.

"The Chinese government just wants to scare people not to go out and protest again. It will deter some of us," another supporter named Syrus, 19, said outside the court. - REUTERS