Hundreds of protesters yesterday flooded a Hong Kong court to support the appeals case of a jailed activist, as the territory continued to clean up from a weekend of unprecedented violence, with the subway system set to close early for the sixth straight day.
The crowds gathered outside of the Hong Kong High Court in the Admiralty, where self-described “localist” Edward Leung (梁天琦), 28, was expected to appear at an appeal hearing.
Leung was last year sentenced to six years in prison for helping to lead a 2016 riot that was one of the worst outbreaks of unrest the territory had witnessed at the time.
The crowd of protesters — many wearing masks, despite a recent ban on face coverings that prompted clashes over the weekend — chanted: “Release Edward Leung.”
After hearing arguments from both sides in court, a three-judge panel adjourned and said they would rule at a later date, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
Leung’s more radical approach has gained traction in the recent protests, which have been raging for four months as of yesterday.
The MTR Corp said train service had mostly returned to normal even though numerous stations and exits remained shut due to “serious vandalism.”
Service was ending at 8pm to allow extra time for more repairs, the company said.
Leung has a broad following among younger activists on the front lines of recent protests, and his 2016 campaign slogan “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of Our Time!” is chanted at almost every demonstration.
He was subsequently among the first candidates banned for running in territorywide elections, as the government asserted that his past support for independence conflicted with Hong Kong’s charter.
The so-called “fish ball riot” in 2016, which began as a protest against government restrictions on unlicensed street vendors during the Lunar New Year, shocked the territory at the time.
More than 90 police officers were injured and warning shots were fired into the air.
The sentencing judge in Leung’s case described the 2016 incident as “organized violence” carried out with a desire for “revenge” before handing down the second-most severe penalty to a protester, according to the South China Morning Post.
Leung was convicted for rioting under a colonial statute that authorities have increasingly used against protesters this year.
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