The case against a warehouse worker who allegedly provided assistance to four fugitives hiding in safehouses ahead of their planned escape out of Hong Kong has been adjourned to November.

Yip Ho, wearing a black windbreaker, appeared at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court before judge Amy Chan on Friday afternoon. He did not have a legal representative.

West Kowloon Magistrates Courts
West Kowloon Law Courts Building. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

He stands accused of providing assistance to the four fugitives between October 2020 and July 13 this year for the purpose of “absconding from court hearings and/or fleeing from the Hong Kong jurisdiction,” to obstruct or hinder police investigations and related criminal proceedings.

Police said earlier that he had arranged food and shelter for the four, who were arrested in Sai Kung in July. Aged 16 to 24, they were facing charges – including rioting and taking part in an illegal assembly – linked to the 2019 protests. Among them was Tsang Chi-kin, who was shot during a protest in 2019.

Police said they had spent almost two years hiding in safehouses, most recently in a windowless unit in an industrial building in Tsuen Wan.

An unidentified group had been supporting them, but had stopped paying rent for their hideouts or giving them food since the start of the year, according to police.

tsang chi kin shot in the chest Oct 1 2019
Protester Tsang Chi-kin was shot in the chest by police on October 1, 2019 during a protest in Tsuen Wan. Photo: CityU Editorial Board video screenshot.

The four were skinny, with long and unkempt hair and in a “poor mental condition” when arrested, police said.

Officers added that they had intended to leave Hong Kong. They did not identify their destination was, but said they had found around TW$10,000 to TW$20,000 in their possession. Local media said they had planned to head to Taiwan.

When Yip first appeared in court in July, the prosecution said police needed time to look into his electronic devices, payment accounts and the leases of the alleged hideouts. He was denied bail and has been in remand since.

Department of Justice
Department of Justice. Photo: GovHK.

The prosecution said on Friday that police had largely completed their investigation. The case was adjourned to November 7 to allow the Department of Justice to provide input.

Possible transfer to District Court

The prosecution said the case had a “high chance” of being transferred to the District Court, a higher court than the Magistrates’ Court.

Since their July arrests, the four fugitives have appeared in court for their protest-related cases. The cases against three fugitives, including Tsang, were adjourned to September.

Wong Hoi-ming, who faced a possession of marijuana charge in addition to an illegal assembly charge over a protest on June 12, 2019, was sentenced to a drug addiction treatment centre in August, The Witness reported.

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Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.