A person not physically present at an unlawful assembly or riot can no longer be held liable as an actual participant of the crime, Hong Kong’s top court has ruled in a landmark decision for pending trials stemming from the 2019 anti-government protests.
In a much-anticipated judgment, the Court of Final Appeal ruled it unlawful for prosecutors to apply the common law doctrine of joint enterprise to illegal assembly and riot cases when going after suspects who were not on the scene.
The five presiding judges held that prosecutors could only indict people who were not present by invoking a conspiracy charge or ancillary offences such as aiding and abetting, incitement and assisting an offender.
The doctrine previously relied upon by prosecutors allowed for all participants of a riot or unlawful assembly to be held liable for the same offences regardless of whether they were physically present at the scene, so long as they shared a common purpose.
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