2 convicted of possessing 59 petrol bombs during Hong Kong protests

PHOTO: South China Morning Post

A university student and a construction worker have been convicted of possessing 59 petrol bombs at a rental flat in the largest haul of the incendiary device during Hong Kong’s civil unrest in 2019.

City University undergraduate Cheng Kam Fai, 22, and construction worker Wong Kin Ki, 21, face potential jail terms of up to seven years, after they were convicted in the District Court on Wednesday (Aug 18) of possessing articles with intent to destroy or damage property.

A third defendant, unemployed man Yau Kin Wai, 26, was cleared of the charge after the presiding judge found no evidence he had come into contact with the explosives.

The trio were part of a group of four men and one woman arrested on Nov 2 two years ago, when police raided an Airbnb flat in the Top View Mansion building in Wan Chai on a day marked by chaotic protests across Hong Kong Island.

Protesters hurl petrol bombs at riot police on Mallory Street in Wan Chai, on Nov 2, 2019.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

Officers broke into the flat at 3pm after confirming the five had entered the premises. The suspects jumped off a balcony and fled, but were later found inside the building.

A subsequent search of the flat uncovered 59 petrol bombs, 79 partially made bombs, 50 empty glass bottles, 4.9 litres of petrol, 4.6 litres of diesel, and one litre of isopropyl alcohol, a highly flammable substance.

Officers also seized two bottles of pepper spray, five extendable batons and other items associated with the protests.

Polytechnic University student Yeung Wing-yu, 24, and City University student Jawin Mok Ly-tao, 22, were each jailed for 38 months after pleading guilty to the same charge faced by their three co-defendants, who denied handling the bombs.

In Wednesday’s verdict, Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man ruled Cheng must have taken 27 of the finished firebombs to the flat, as video evidence showed him outside the building carrying a foam box containing them.

Riot police fire tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai, on Nov 2, 2019.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

While there was no visual proof Wong had handled the petrol bombs, Yip decided he must have come into contact with them, by pointing to the defendant’s palm marks left on two of the remaining 32 bombs found in the flat.

“A petrol bomb can only be used to damage others’ property,” Yip said. “The defendants did not advance a defence in this regard. On this basis, I find them guilty of the charge.”

However, Yip acquitted Yau, as his presence inside the flat and fingerprints found on a seized baton were insufficient to prove he had possessed the petrol bombs or related materials.

The judge adjourned sentencing to Thursday, saying he would adopt a starting point similar to Yeung and Mok when deciding on the appropriate jail terms for the two convicted defendants.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.