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Charges dropped against Filipino dancer arrested in anti-govt protest

28 November 2019

By The SUN
Image may contain: 3 people, including Rey Asis, people smiling
A Facebook post by Pioquinto (middle) shows him with fellow
migrants rights advocates Rey Asis and Aaron Ceradoy
 A Filipino performer in Hong Kong Disneyland was set free on Tuesday, Nov. 26, after prosecutors decided to drop a charge of unlawful assembly against him.

Jethro Pioquinto, 36, was arrested during a police dispersal operation against anti-government protesters in Mong Kok on Aug 3. He had always said that he was just on his way home from work when he got caught in the protest.

A government lawyer told Kowloon City magistrate Aida Yim that the charge of unlawful assembly against Pioquinto and another defendant arrested at the same time were being withdrawn, but gave no reason.
Pioquinto had been out on $10,000 bail since he was charged in court on Aug. 5.

His release meant that Pioquinto could now join a family reunion in Manila next month.

At an earlier hearing on Sept. 30, his volunteer lawyer had tried to get court permission for Pioquinto to fly home for the reunion, but the prosecutor opposed the application, saying there was a risk he would not return to Hong Kong.

The prosecutor also said then that more charges could be filed against Pioquinto based on his alleged contacts with other protesters, but gave no details.

Pioquinto was arrested at about 11:15pm on Aug 3, as the police were clearing Nathan Road in Mong Kok of anti-government protesters.
Image may contain: 1 person
Still shot from a video taken during the arrest showed a terrified Pioquinto being led away by police

The prosecution said the Filipino did not budge when the police ordered the protesters to leave before they began a clearing operation.

But his lawyer said Pioquinto was not a rally participant and could not have understood the police order to leave because he does not speak Cantonese.

He was said to be on his way home to his rented room nearby after finishing work at HK Disneyland when he unfortunately got caught in the protest.

Videos taken of the dispersal operation showed Pioquinto being tackled to the ground by police before being dragged away.

Officers of the Consulate said Pioquinto was taken to the North Point Police station following his arrest, but was moved to Pamela Youde Nethersole Hospital the next morning where he was examined and treated for his injuries.

He showed up in court for the first time with his right arm wrapped in thick gauze pad due to a laceration he sustained when he fell on the pavement as riot police ganged up on him.

His lawyer said no protest-related materials were found on him, just his shoulder bag, mobile phone and an Octopus card.

At the the time of his arrest, Pioquinto was said to be looking forward to going home to Manila to attend a family reunion, along with some of his siblings who also work abroad. 

In a Facebook post, he also said he was "brewing up something" for the Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge, along with friends and fellow migrant rights advocates Rey Asis and Aaron Ceradoy.
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