Forty-four protesters charged with rioting during Sunday’s clashes on Hong Kong Island have been released on bail, along with another activist charged with possession of an offensive weapon.
Each were granted HK$1,000 bail at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Wednesday. Most will be subject to a curfew, except one defendant who was exempted as they work at a children’s home at night. They will have to report to the police every week.
Most of the defendants are forbidden from leaving Hong Kong, except a commercial pilot who will be able to leave the city when he is working.
The rioting charge has been controversial among anti-extradition law protesters, as it carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years under the Public Order Ordinance. A court hearing was set for September 25 for the 45 activists.
Police arrested 32 men and 17 women – ranging from 16 to 41-years-old – after violent clashes broke out in Sheung Wan. Two were released on bail without being charged whilst two were released unconditionally.
Of the remaining individuals, 44 were charged with rioting, including a 33-year-old man who faces an additional charge of assaulting a police officer. Another 24-year-old man was charged with possession of an offensive weapon.
Hectar Pun, lawyer for the first and second defendants, said they were only helping the 16-year-old third defendant – a student who was at risk of falling to the ground on Sunday. Pun said they did not attack the police.
Pun said the pair ran a gym together and were set to get married this Sunday.
The two wished to be able to go on their honeymoon, but the magistrate refused the application.
Outside court, hundreds of protesters came out to support the 45 who were charged, braving a T3-signal typhoon.
Many held signs and chanted slogans such as “no rioters, only tyranny.”