Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency has proactively launched an investigation into last month’s Yuen Long mob attacks, to reportedly examine whether the incident involved any misconduct by the police.

The police force has been accused of failing to act quickly enough to rescue those who were attacked by a mob in white shirts in the New Territories town on July 21. 45 people were injured in the incident, including anti-extradition law protesters, journalists, a lawmaker and commuters.

The police confirmed they received intelligence about the potential attack before it occurred, but treated it as low risk.

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Security camera footage showing men in white shirts on July 21 in Yuen Long. Police did not take action after passing them three times. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

RTHK’s Hong Kong Connection programme presented footage showing that the mob – some armed with weapons – appeared at Fung Yau Street North in Yuen Long three hours before the attack. Three police cars drove by but none took any action.

On Wednesday, the public broadcaster cited unnamed sources as reporting that top-level officials at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) had launched an investigation into potential misconduct in public office of police officers.

The RTHK report, as well as a Now TV report, said that officers of the ICAC went to shops on Fung Yau North Street on Wednesday to ask for security camera footage.

The maximum punishment for misconduct in public office is seven years imprisonment and a fine.

The ICAC said in response that it has received complaints from residents and they will be persued seriously, but it will not comment on individual cases.

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It came after Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan filed a complaint at the ICAC last Wednesday, alleging misconduct by the Yuen Long district regional commander.

Wan said he welcomed the investigation: “It should investigate whether there was any collusion between the police and the triads,” he told Apple Daily.

But he maintained that an independent commission of inquiry was required to look into the recent protests and demands.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.