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Fresh protests in Hong Kong as more than 40 charged with rioting

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on July 31, 2019 - Duration: 01:41s

Fresh protests in Hong Kong as more than 40 charged with rioting

More than 40 people appeared in a Hong Kong court on Wednesday charged with rioting for their role in a recent protest that turned violent when thousands of activists clashed with police near Beijing's main representative office in the city.

Francesca Lynagh reports.

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Fresh protests in Hong Kong as more than 40 charged with rioting

44 people appeared in a Hong Kong court on Wednesday (July 31), charged with rioting for their role in this protest that turned violent, when thousands of activists clashed with police near Beijing's main representative office on Sunday (July 28).

It's the first time that authorities in the financial hub have resorted to using the rioting charge.

It's a term that has infuriated activists, partly because of the heavier sentence it carries.

Under Hong Kong law, rioting is defined as an unlawful assembly of three or more people where any person "commits a breach of the peace''.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ARRESTED PROTESTER RECENTLY CLEARED OF OBSTRUCTION CHARGES, JOHNSON YEUNG, SAYING: "Riot charge is a collective crime, so even if the person who they're charging didn't do any inciting violence or didn't do any behaviour (that is) violent, they're still held accountable to others' behaviour.

And I think this is wrong and this tells you this system is rigged, and there is some problem in the system." The former British colony has plunged into its biggest political crisis since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

Protests began in late April against a controversial extradition bill.

But in recent weeks they've turned more and more violent.

Even with a major typhoon heading for the city, many protesters stayed put outside the courthouse on Wednesday chanting ''revolution of our time" and "liberate Hong Kong'' in a show of solidarity.

All of the defendants were released on bail and were ordered to remain in Hong Kong with an overnight curfew.

The released activists - including several students, clerks and even a Cathay Pacific pilot - are due back in court in September.

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