Hong Kong — Thursday, November 21, saw the youngest person in the months-long demonstrations in Hong Kong plead guilty to two counts of criminal damage which occurred last month, four months after the increasingly violent protests started in June.
The boy reportedly sprayed obscene graffiti at an exit at Prince Edward MTR as well as Mong Kok Police Station on October 3.
A lawyer for the boy, who remains unnamed due to legal reasons, has asked for a second change for the minor, according to a report from South China Morning Post (SCMP), pointing out that he had acted on impulse during the incident and is now showing remorse.
Magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu heard from the lawyer that the youth is so remorseful after his arrest that after school these days he goes home directly. He has not, his lawyer said, practised dragon dance nor played basketball since running afoul of the law.
Defence counsel Jacqueline Lam has asked for a sentence from the court that would not give the boy a criminal record.
She told the court, “He knows he made a serious mistake.
It has been an important lesson to him, as he was detained overnight at a police station after arrest.”
However, the magistrate has reserved the option of imposing a probation order on the youth. This would mean he would have a criminal record, as well as be counselled and supervised for three years by a probation officer.
Additionally, Mr Wong is asking for a report from social welfare that would evaluate whether or not it would be suitable for a protection order for the boy, which would place him under a Social Welfare Department-appointed guardian.
The boy’s sentencing is scheduled for December 18.
The youth was seen on the evening of October 3 using black paint to spray “damn rogue cops” on the wall of Mong Kok Police Station by a plainclothes officer, who then followed the youth to Prince Edward MTR station.
The officer than saw the boy spray paint “divine annihilation, free HK” on the wall of exit B1.
The following morning, the policeman got a hold of the boy on his way to school and he was escorted back home, where a bottle of black paint and some clothes were taken from his possessions.
The boy said in subsequent interviews, while accompanied by his grandmother, that he had committed the acts of vandalism alone and that he was sorry for what he has done.
Seven mitigation letters from the boy’s family and teachers have been submitted to the court by Ms Lam. He has been living with his grandmother since his parents’ separation for a number of years now, and helps the elderly lady with her daily duties.
SCMP quotes Ms Lam as saying, “I ask the court to give him a chance. After all he’s just 12 years of age.”
Hong Kong has been in a state of increasing turmoil since June. The protests have gone on to interrupt transportation, businesses and even classes at school, began with a demand from the demonstrators for the government to withdraw a contentious extradition bill, the Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill, which had been suspended by June 15.
But the demonstrators later expanded their cause to what they’ve termed as “5 demands” which are, 1) the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; 2) a retraction from the government of the characterization of the protests as “riots”; 3) the release and acquittal of protestors who had been arrested; 4) an establishment of an independent commission to investigate police behavior during the protests and 5) the resignation of the Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, as well as full freedom to elect the city’s Legislative Council and Chief Executive. -/TISG