HK protests: 44 charged with rioting
Police say dozens of Hong Kong protesters detained during recent clashes will be charged with rioting -- an offence that carries a jail term of up to ten years -- as the finance hub’s embattled pro-Beijing leaders crack down on weeks of demonstrations.
Hong Kong has been hit by seven weeks of mass protest rallies -- some of which have ended in violence -- triggered by a controversial bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
They have evolved into calls for wider democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the most significant challenge to Beijing’s rule since the city’s 1997 handover.
Recent weeks have seen a dramatic surge in the level of violence used by both protesters and police who have repeatedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse projectile-throwing crowds.
In the latest clashes on Sunday, protesters fought running battles with riot officers in a well-heeled residential suburb on the main island with 49 arrests made.
A senior police source yesterday said that 44 of those arrested were being charged with rioting and are expected to appear in court on Wednesday morning.
Rioting is one of the most serious public order offences on Hong Kong’s statute books and carries a sentence of up to a decade in jail.
The move to charge the 44 protesters comes a day after Beijing publicly threw its weight behind Hong Kong’s unelected leader Carrie Lam and the police, saying violent protesters must be swiftly punished.