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Hong Kong security law

Top Hong Kong court limits scope of 'riot' crimes

Judges rule protesters must have been involved at scene or have had incited others

The Court of Final Appeal's ruling on Thursday will limit the ability of Hong Kong prosecutors to charge those who were not actively involved in an illegal assembly with the crime of rioting.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong's top court on Thursday ruled that individuals can generally be convicted of the crime of rioting only if they were present at the scene or had incited others to join in, dealing a blow to government efforts to prosecute some residents linked the city's 2019 demonstrations.

The Court of Final Appeal's five-judge panel explained in its written judgment that the offenses of rioting and unauthorized assembly are both participatory in nature and that there must be sufficient evidence shown of having taken part and of having done so intentionally. Merely being present should not constitute a crime.

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