HONG KONG : Hong Kong's High Court ruled on Monday that a British colonial-era emergency law revived by the government to ban protesters wearing face masks was unconstitutional.

It said the law was ''incompatible with the Basic Law'', the mini-constitution under which Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The protesters made gains on a legal front when the High Court struck down a ban on face masks imposed by the government last month.

The court said it did not consider anti-mask laws unconstitutional in general, but in this case, the law infringed on fundamental rights further than was reasonably necessary.

Many protesters wear masks to shield their identities from surveillance cameras that could be used to arrest and prosecute them. The ban has been widely ignored, and police have brought charges against protesters wearing masks.

Meanwhile, police tightened their siege of a university campus where hundreds of protesters remained trapped on Monday night in latest dramatic episode in months of protests against growing Chinese control over the semi-autonomous city.

The pitched battle for the control of  the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been the focus of the latest protests as demonstrators for days fortified the campus to keep the police out.

Now cornered by security forces determined to arrest them, they desperately tried to get out but faced a cordon of officers armed with tear gas and water canons.

Throughout the day, multiple protests disrupted traffic in the Asian financial center, where schools remained closed because of safety concerns stemming from the demonstrations, which began in June but have become increasingly violent in recent weeks. [Agencies]


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