The nine-person jury in the rioting trial of localist Edward Leung and others has yet to reach a verdict on Thursday evening, the second day of their deliberation.
Leung and four others are facing charges of rioting, incitement of riot and unlawful assembly over the unrest on the streets of Mong Kok in February 2016. The clashes broke out when demonstrators became angered at authorities’ attempts to clear street hawkers.
A jury of nine must reach a 7-2 majority for there to be a valid verdict either way.
Rioting carries a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment, while the maximum penalty for assaulting police officers is two years in prison.
On Thursday afternoon, the jurors submitted a question to the court, asking High Court judge Anthea Pang to clarify the meaning of “intent” in relation to the rioting charges.
Judge Pang said that “intent” was an ordinary expression used in daily lives and that there was no specific legal definition. “In deciding the intent of each of the defendants, you must consider what they have done or failed to do, as well as the consequences of their action or inaction. You must also take into consideration what they say or did not say.”
She told them to consider what the defendant did before, during, and after the offences they are accused of committing.
The judge said that this may help jurors understand what the defendant’s motive is during the “crucial moments.”
Judge Pang further explained that the defendant’s relevant intent does not have to be formed under careful planning, and that it could be formed in an instant or as a result of their emotions.
In differentiating motive and intent, Pang gave the example that if a person wishes to put an end to a family member’s life because they do not wish to see the relative suffer, the intent would be to kill, and the motive to end the suffering.
Pang added that the inference of intent must be made on a foundation of established facts, and that it must be “the only reasonable inference.”
At 9:03pm, Pang told the jurors to rest and to resume deliberating on Friday.
The first defendant, Edward Leung, was charged with unlawfully inciting those present in Portland Street, Mong Kok to riot, together with fellow localist Ray Wong. Wong and Leung were both spokesmen for Hong Kong Indigenous at the time of the events.
Leung was also accused of taking part in a riot in Portland Street, rioting in Argyle Street and assaulting police. He pleaded guilty to the last charge and has been remanded since January. He denied all other charges.
The second and third defendant, Lee Nok-man and Lo Kin-man, pleaded not guilty to taking part in a riot on Portland Street.
The fourth defendant, Lam Ngo-hin, denied taking part in an unlawful assembly on Portland Street and rioting on Portland Street.
The fifth defendant, Lam Lun-hing, faces three separate counts of taking part in a riot on Argyle Street, Shantung Street and Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok. He has denied the charges.