Hong Kong, March 3 (ANI): A 16-year-old student has been sentenced to up to six months in a detention centre becoming the first confessed rioter to avoid actual prison time since the 2019 social unrest.
The teenager is the youngest person to plead guilty to rioting during Hong Kong's anti-government protests, according to South China Morning Post (SCMP).
District Judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung on Wednesday ruled that remanding the teenager in a detention centre for a short period of time with 'counselling' was appropriate as an alternative to imprisonment.
"The defendant might have been convinced by certain academics or politicians to 'achieve justice by violating the law' ... If he did so and thought that he could be forgiven for committing illegal acts, this is fallacious, because the concept is subjective," Lin said in his judgment.
Whether the teenage is released before six months will depend on his conduct, and is ultimately decided by the commissioner of correctional services. Upon release from a detention centre, offenders may be subjected to a supervision period of one year and expected to obey certain requirements, writes Natalie Wong for SCMP.
The boy admitted to hurling a petrol bomb towards a law enforcement officer, without injuring him, during a riot involving about 70 protesters that broke out in the shopping district of Mong Kok on November 16, 2019. He was 14 at that time.
In his ruling, the district judge rejected the student's defence that he had been 'instigated' by others to hurl the petrol bomb, stating that his black outfit and gear were the same as that worn by the violent protesters at the scene and his refusal to leave the site despite warnings by the force, reported SCMP.
The judge further commented that he would have "no hesitation" in imprisoning adult offenders to reflect the seriousness of rioting, for which five-year sentences had been generally adopted as the starting point for sentencing.
The student is the only one who has not been sent to prison, among over ten individuals who have pleaded guilty to rioting charges relating to the anti-government protests.
The heaviest sentence to date went to construction worker Ho Ka-lok, 30, who was jailed for five-and-a-half years upon being found guilty of rioting and assaulting a mainland Chinese journalist at the airport in August 2019. (ANI)