HONG KONG: The teenage protester who was shot at close range by Hong Kong police has been charged with rioting and assaulting a police officer.
Tsang Chi-kin, 18, was among seven people charged with rioting whose cases were to be heard in Sha Tin Court on Thursday (Oct 3).
He was, however, not able to attend the court session as he is in hospital.
According to Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK, the Form Five student had undergone surgery and is in stable condition.
The charge of rioting carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.
Tsang, also known as Tony, was shot at point-blank range on Tuesday in Tsuen Wan district. Video of the incident showed he had been among protesters who attacked police with poles and umbrellas.
Police defended the officer who pulled the trigger, saying he feared for his life after he and his colleagues were outnumbered and surrounded by “very ruthless” protesters.
"The protesters were very ruthless, they used hammer, spanner, iron rod to attack our colleague who fell on the floor. They also use sharpened walking sticks to stab our colleague," senior superintendent of police public relations branch Tse Chun-chung said on Wednesday.
"When they were trying to stab the police did they consider his life? And the people who criticised police shooting do they differentiate life of a policeman and an attacker?"
But protest groups have said the officer charged into the melee with his gun drawn.
The shooting was the first time a demonstrator has been struck with a live round in nearly four months of increasingly violent protests in Hong Kong.
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About 200 supporters turned up to watch the court proceedings on Thursday after another night of violence, as petrol bomb-throwing demonstrators angry about the shooting clashed with police into the early hours of the morning.
Police urged the government to impose curfews to help curb the escalating violence in the Chinese-ruled city, where officers have become a target of protesters amid accusations of excessive force.
Months of protests were sparked by a now-scrapped Bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland, but they escalated into a wider movement calling for more democratic freedoms.
Demonstrations have stretched the police force and transport networks to their limits.
Rail operator MTR Corp closed stations in districts including Po Lam, Hang Hau and Tseung Kwan O just before midnight on Wednesday as the violence picked up. All affected stations reopened on Thursday.
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