Two men and a woman had admitted to taking part in the violent assault of a mainlander who was visiting Hong Kong during last year’s social unrest, a court heard.
One of the men also admitted to attacking a drunk local, whom protesters mistook for a policeman when he attempted to clear a roadblock that obstructed his way home on the first night of demonstrations following the government’s ban on masks on October 5, 2019.
The District Court heard the 29-year-old visitor, named only as X, was walking alone back to his hostel in Mong Kok that evening when a woman identified him as a mainlander and drew the attention of about 30 black-clad individuals, who then assaulted him.
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Videos played in the court showed saleswoman Wong Yee-ting, 23, holding up a rainbow-coloured umbrella that blocked cameras from recording the attacks, which took place intermittently while the group moved from Nathan Road to Argyle Street.
But cleaner Law Wai-wah, 57, was captured hitting X with a metal rod, before Egyptian construction worker Soliman Ahmed Fawzi Elsayed, 36, joined in and kicked him after he fell to the ground.
The same video also captured X holding an object in hand that was never used.
“Why do you need a brick on your way home?” a voice was heard shouting.
“Don’t let him go,” came another.
There were also people calling for the attackers to stop.
Senior Public Prosecutor Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan said X bled profusely as a result of the four-minute assault that was eventually reported to police. X finally returned to the hostel at about 1am, with his phone, money, and bank cards taken away by the assailants.
X was then sent to Kwong Wah Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a bruised lip, multiple abrasions and a large haematoma on the back of his scalp. But he demanded to be discharged, against medical advice.
Less than two hours after this, Law took part in a second assault and used the same rod to attack a drunk local, identified as Y, 45, who removed some obstructions at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street after finding multiple barricades blocking his way home.
The man was confronted by more than 10 black-clad individuals who accused him of being a police officer and proceeded to assault him with punches, kicks and bamboo sticks, despite his denial.
The assault was also captured on video, which ended with Y sitting on the ground, with one hand holding his bleeding head.
Y was then taken by an ambulance to Kwong Wah Hospital, where he was found to have suffered multiple abrasions, bruising, and limited right arm movement due to the pain.
Both victims have since recovered from their injuries.
Law and Wong were arrested on December 31 last year. Soliman was caught at the airport while he was trying to leave Hong Kong on February 10.
Under caution, Law said he went to Mong Kok that night to look after the protesters and admitted to taking part in the assaults. Wong remained silent, while Soliman denied his involvement.
On Friday, Law pleaded guilty to two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, an offence punishable by seven years in the District Court, while Wong and Soliman each pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of wounding, which carried a lower term of three years.
All of them had no prior convictions.
They have all agreed to compensate X, sharing a sum of 10,000 yuan (US$1,484). Law also agreed to compensate Y’s medical expenses.
In mitigation, defence counsel Fiona Nam said her client Law was a respectable man of good character, who genuinely believed that young protesters were vulnerable to attacks during the anti-government movement, so he attended the scene after work to observe happenings and protect them.
“He’s not a violent person,” Nam said. “Unfortunately, he was blinded by the anger he had at the time and foolishly resorted to violence for the first time in his life.”
Meanwhile, defence counsel Anthony Yuen argued that Wong had no intention to directly assault X and said she felt very remorseful after learning this “bitter lesson”.
Yuen also explained that Soliman, a resident of the same building as X’s hostel, was on his way to buy cigarettes when he heard someone shouting that the man had attacked protesters.
“Out of curiosity, he joined the group,” the counsel said. “That was stupid.”
He added that Soliman, who arrived in the city in 2008, “loves Hong Kong” and hoped he could be released soon to be reintegrated with the community.
District Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on will sentence the trio on October 28.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong protests: student cleared of assaulting policeman after magistrate raises questions about officer’s ‘honesty and reliability’
- Hong Kong protests: ambulanceman arrested, suspended over attack on mainland Chinese tourist