One of the faces of Hong Kong’s independence movement has been found not guilty of inciting the 2016 Mong Kok riots known as the “Fishball Revolution.”
Edward Leung, a former spokesperson for the group Hong Kong Indigenous, was acquitted after a majority of jurors returned not guilty votes.
RTHK reports that the nine-person jury began their deliberations on Monday, after Justice Albert Wong said that the court would only accept a majority verdict of at least seven votes, and instructed the jurors to put aside their personal emotions and political opinions for the moment. Leung was acquitted today after the jury voted seven to two to acquit.
Despite the acquittal, Leung will head back to prison as he is currently serving a six-year jail term for assaulting a police officer and taking part in the Mong Kok riot. The sentence was handed down in May.
At the time, Leung faced two rioting charges, but the jury failed to return a valid verdict for the incitement charge, resulting in a retrial that concluded today.
HKFP reports that Leung’s retrial was combined with the trials of Lee Nok-man, Lam Ngo-hin, and Yung Wai-ip.
Lee and Lam were acquitted of rioting.
Yung, meanwhile, has denied four counts of rioting, assaulting a police officer, taking part in an unlawful assembly, and inciting others of taking part in an unlawful assembly.
Yung — who is often referred to as “Captain America” for turning up to protests with the Marvel hero’s shield — was found guilty today of two of the four counts of rioting and of assaulting an officer. He was acquitted of the two other rioting counts and of inciting an unlawful assembly, and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on whether he took part in an unlawful assembly.
He will be sentenced on April 4.
HK01 reported that Leung breathed a sigh of relief when the judgement was handed down, while both Lee and Lam burst into tears.
The riots in question took place in February 2016 after the government decided to crack down on unlicensed food hawkers serving local snacks in Mong Kok during the Lunar New Year.
The clampdown prompted some independence activists to gather around the hawkers to prevent personnel from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) from clearing them out.
Police soon got involved, with the situation quickly devolving into some of the worst civil unrest the city has seen, with protesters hurling bricks at police, setting fire to trash cans, and a Hong Kong police officer even firing warning shots into the air.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the jury voted seven to two to convict Leung. In fact, it voted seven to two to acquit. Coconuts HK apologizes for any confusion caused.