A Hong Kong activist has been sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for her participation in the 2016 Mong Kok unrest.
Amy Pat Wai-fan, 24, was convicted of two charges of rioting in the District Court earlier this month. Judge Ernest Lin handed down the sentence on Tuesday.
During the trial, the court received as evidence news clips that apparently showed Pat unearthing bricks and throwing projectiles into fires.
In a videotaped police interrogation shown to the court, Pat said that she was only helping others dig up bricks and passing the material to “like-minded” people, Ming Pao reported.
Pat said she had stopped unearthing the bricks as soon as she saw other protesters hurl them at the police, adding that she did not participate in the act, according to Ming Pao.
She also told police that she did not participate in arson. “Those objects were garbage found on the streets,” she was quoted as saying. “There were no trash bins at the time, so I put them into the fires.”
Pat has worked as a part-time waitress and real estate salesperson, according to RTHK.
Court documents showed that Pat had mild intellectual disabilities and suffered from epilepsy. But Judge Lin ruled that Pat had demonstrated during cross-examinations her capacity to differentiate between right and wrong. Therefore, he said, Pat is capable of understanding that her act might violate the law.
Defence lawyers on Tuesday said that a probation order would be more desirable than imprisonment, as sending a person with intellectual disabilities behind bars would not have a deterrent effect.
In response, Judge Lin said that activists seeking democracy and justice must still abide by the law and must be considerate of the interests of others.
A police spokesperson welcomed the court ruling on Tuesday: “We believe that this case will send a clear message to society: anyone who expresses their demands through violence – regardless of the reasons behind – [their acts] will not be accepted by society.”
Tens of protesters have been found guilty and jailed over their involvement in the Mong Kok unrest. One of the most prominent activists, Edward Leung, is serving a six-year jail term for taking part in a riot and assaulting a police officer during the 2016 protests.
Rioting carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment under the Public Order Ordinance. However, the District Court is only allowed to mete out sentences with a maximum length of seven years.
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