The police have arrested six men in connection with an arson attack and explosion in the demonstration area outside the Legislative Council building two weeks ago. Among them is a former auxiliary police officer, who is currently a university student.
A police spokesperson said that after five men were arrested in various places on Monday morning, a sixth suspect was arrested in Central district on Monday night.
The men, aged between 18 and 24, were detained overnight and have not yet been charged.
Ng Wai-hon, superintendent of Hong Kong Island regional crime unit, said on Monday that the five suspects arrested on Monday morning were “organised and had planned to commit a crime” and that “they broke a fire alarm outside the [LegCo] building and then set fire to inflammable objects, put them into the rubbish bin and caused a blast.” Ng also said that some of the suspects were members of a localist group but did not name it.
A police spokesperson said that it was common practice for the police to disclose certain details of cases before charging those arrested.
A prominent lawyer told HKFP that it is unusual for the police to go into such detail about the alleged actions constituting the offence, especially as the information does not appear to have been released with the aim of eliciting help from the public, such as a description of a suspect being sought.
The lawyer also added that if police have sufficient evidence to charge suspects, which they appear to be implying by the information they have released, they should charge them and proceed to court without delay.
The Shue Yan University Student Union (SYUSU) has confirmed that students Joe Yeung Yat-long and Ng Kwai-lung were among the arrested suspects. Known as a regular protester, Yeung is also a former auxiliary police officer. He was seen shaking hands with a police officer during last year’s pro-democracy occupy protests, as a sign of an agreement that protesters would retreat from the demonstration area outside the Chief Executive’s Office.
His role as an auxiliary police officer was discovered by fellow protesters, but he resigned from the position afterwards.
Yeung has also been seen at other protests this year, including those against parallel trading. He is the president-elect of the SYUSU and Ng is the chief editor-elect of the university’s student newspaper. They both study history; Yeung is in year four and Ng is in year three. Their terms will start on January 1. If they are not available on that date, their elected deputies will be responsible for their duties.
The SYUSU said that both students were accompanied by volunteer lawyers.
The arson attack and explosion occurred after a planned rally against the controversial copyright bill was cancelled.
A burnt gas canister was found near the rubbish bin after the explosion. No one was injured.
A rally had been scheduled to take place in the area that night, when the debate on the controversial copyright bill – dubbed “Internet Article 23” – was supposed to be taking place. However, the debate had been unexpectedly adjourned earlier in the day.
Police had said they were hunting two men after the incident and released CCTV footage showing two masked suspects.