YANGON (Reuters) - The 18-year-old protester shot in the chest by Hong Kong police this week was throwing bricks and “rioting” at the time he was wounded, a prosecutor told a court packed with his supporters on Friday.
Tsang Chi-kin, also known as Tony Tsang, who was shot at close range on Tuesday as he fought officers with what appeared to be a white pole, has been charged with rioting, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence, and assaulting a police officer.
The prosecutor said Tsang was more violent than others who have attended recent rallies, which began after the government announced its intention to introduce an extradition law.
The proposed legislation, which would have meant the possibility of people facing trial in mainland courts, has been withdrawn but the protests have evolved into a broad pro-democracy movement.
A judge set bail at HK$5000 ($640) and banned Tsang, who according to his lawyer is in a hospital intensive care unit in a stable condition, from leaving the country.
After the hearing, hundreds of supporters, some crying, clapped and chanted “thank you” to the lawyer who represented him. They also opened umbrellas to form a tunnel outside the court to shield the identity of other arrested protesters who appeared in court.
Cecilia Ng, 53, said young people had sacrificed themselves to stop government wrongdoing.
“Yes, they destroy things. But it was completely not necessary to shoot them,” she said. “The point is that the government taught us that peaceful protest can never work. Now, the government pushes another evil law. Our city is on edge. Our teenagers are also on edge.”
Many of those gathered in the court and outside were wearing masks, in defiance of an expected government ban on the wearing of face-masks in public - as many protesters do to disguise their identities. The ban was announced a short while later.
The case was been adjourned until Nov. 14.
Reporting by Felix Tam; Writing by Poppy McPherson