Hong Kong protesters take their cause to airport arrivals

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More than 40 people appeared in a Hong Kong court on Wednesday charged with rioting for their role in a recent protest that turned violent when thousands of activists clashed with police near Beijing’s main representative office in the city. A wave of protests that began in late April have plunged the former British colony into its biggest political crisis since its return to Chinese rule in 1997, but this is the first time that the authorities in the financial hub have resorted to using the rioting charge. The 44 charged had been arrested after a peaceful gathering on Sunday in a park in the city’s central business district rapidly morphed into running battles between thousands of black-clad demonstrators and police, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas. The use of the anti-riot law could infuriate activists who have been demanding that the government avoid using the term “riot” to refer to the demonstrations. Under Hong Kong law, rioting is defined as an unlawful assembly of three or more people where any person “commits a breach of the peace”, and a conviction can carry a 10-year prison sentence. Most of the defendants were released on bail of HK$1,000 (US$128). The court also imposed a curfew from midnight to 6 am on most of them, and many were ordered to remain in Hong Kong. Those charged included 13 students, seven clerks, a pilot from the city’s main airline, Cathay Pacific (0293.HK), teachers, nurses, workers and salesmen. All were released on bail…

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