Five of the six suspects arrested over the Legislative Council rubbish bin blasts two weeks ago have all been released on bail of between HK$10,000 to HK$50,000 each. The case has been adjourned to February 3 next year.

The suspects are forbidden to go near the Legislative Council complex during this period and have to report to the police station three times a week.

The defendants are of age 18 to 24 and they include two students, an illustrator, an unemployed person, and a former auxiliary police officer. They have been charged for destroying a rubbish bin at the Legislative Council demonstration area on December 9 without a reasonable excuse. The arson attack and explosion occurred at around 8:30pm after a planned rally against a controversial new copyright bill was cancelled by organisers. No one was injured.

The exploded bin. Photo: Gov HK, Facebook.

Outside the law courts building police stood guard and erected barricades. Civic Passion’s Wong Yeung-tat and Student Front’s Alvin Cheng were seen in the audience at the hearing.

The defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit arson and appeared at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. They were not required to submit a reply.

In the meantime, the prosecution will be assembling evidence, which includes an analysis of CCTV footage, phone records, thumbprint identifications, and lab reports on the flammable materials.

The prosecution argued that the first to third defendants in the case should not be granted bail, as there was strong evidence against the first defendant. Records showed that he had used his Octopus Card at the MTR exit gate at Admiralty, and CCTV footage appeared to show someone wearing similar clothing as him near the scene of the crime, RTHK reported.

The first defendant’s lawyer argued that the identity of the defendant will be contested, as the footage merely shows a suspect in a surgical face mask. The defence counsel said that everyone could take the MTR and walk to the LegCo, as the public has a right to assemble there and express their views, Oriental Daily reported.

The second and third defendants admitted to the crime under caution. The second defendant, who had been keeping a lookout on the day of the crime, will be assisting the police in reconstructing the crime scene. The third defendant said that he bought alcohol and sheets of paper at the request of the fifth defendant, but he did not know what the items were for. The role of the fourth defendant was not revealed in court.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.