Tai Hing Operational Base gas leak incident leads to clash between protesters and police, court sentences two to prison

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27th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) In October 2019, there were reports from concerned citizens in Tuen Mun suspecting the leakage of unidentified gas from the Tai Hing Operational Base, a police operational facility. As a result, they gathered near the base to protest and demand accountability from the law enforcement agencies. The situation escalated into a clash between the protesters and the police. Twelve individuals were charged with participating in an unlawful assembly, and out of those, nine pleaded guilty and have already been sentenced. The remaining three individuals denied the charges and faced trial. However, after the trial, a temporary magistrate at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the District Court) ruled earlier this month that all charges against the three defendants were proven. Today, the magistrate handed down the sentences for the two individuals, sentencing them to 17 months and 15 days in prison, while the younger defendant was sent to a correctional institution. Magistrate Cheng deemed that the three defendants had premeditatedly gone to the location and actively participated in the unlawful assembly.

In addition to the charge of participating in an unlawful assembly, the three defendants were also charged with using facial coverings during the incident. The charges stated that they participated in an unlawful assembly and used facial coverings in a public place near Tai Hing Operational Base in Tuen Mun, on 30th October, 2019. Another defendant, Wu, did not admit to the charge of possessing an item with the intent to destroy property, specifically spray paint. After the trial, all charges against the three defendants were proven.

The judge stated that the duration of the unlawful assembly was approximately 45 minutes, involving around 200 people, and included road blockages. The actions of the three defendants were not limited to mere cheering at the scene. The two older defendants were both sentenced to 17 months and 15 days in prison. However, considering that the younger defendant was only 14 years old at the time of the incident, the judge decided not to impose a custodial sentence and instead sentenced them to a correctional institution. In a previous ruling, nine other defendants in the same case had already pleaded guilty to charges of participating in an unlawful assembly. Two underage defendants were sentenced to rehabilitation centres, while the remaining seven were sentenced to 13 months and 15 days in prison.