By Jessie Pang
HONG KONG (Reuters) – A man who was shot by Hong Kong police during mass pro-democracy protests in 2019 was sentenced to 47 months imprisonment by a district court on Wednesday on multiple charges, including rioting and perverting the course of justice.
Tsang Chi-kin was sentenced to 40 months for rioting, and 7 months for allegedly assaulting a policeman with a white stick on October 1, 2019, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets as part of protracted anti-China, pro-democracy protests, sparking a crisis for Beijing’s Communist leaders.
Tsang was also sentenced to 11 months and two weeks for perverting the course of justice with three other people.
Deputy District Judge Ada Yim gave Tsang more than a one third deduction of his sentence after an expression of remorse, and for actively assisting the police investigation.
The 22-year-old had emerged from obscurity to become one of the city’s most high profile protesters. His plight was closely followed after he was shot, and he later went into hiding for two years after a failed bid to seek asylum in the city’s U.S. consulate.
Tsang, who was 18 at the time, pleaded guilty to all charges and wrote in a letter that he suffered from depression and health problems from the gun injury, but Yim said these were not mitigating factors.
She said a deterrent sentence was needed as Tsang had almost succeeded in absconding.
Two other co-defendants were jailed for up to 20 months, and a third sent to a training centre for youths.
Tsang told reporters that being rejected for asylum by the U.S. had plunged him from “heaven to hell” prompting him to go into hiding.
After evading the police for nearly two years by shuttling between safe houses, Tsang and several others were caught on a taxi heading to a pier where they planned to board a speedboat to Taiwan.
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, drawing criticism from some Western governments including the U.S. who say it is a tool to crack down on dissent and the democratic opposition.
China, however, says the security law has restored stability in the global financial hub.
(This story has been corrected to fix the gender to say she, not he, in paragraph 7)
(Reporting by Jessie Pang; Editing by James Pomfret and Raju Gopalakrishnan)