A man who was shot during the protests in 2019, and who spent two years hiding in safehouses, will plead guilty to contempt of court, rioting and attacking a police officer.
Tsang Chi-kin, 21, appeared in District Court alongside Fung Ching-wah, Ansen Wong, Alex Wong, and Yip Ho on Tuesday.
Tsang, Fung and the two Wongs, who face contempt of court charges, were arrested in Sai Kung last July while en route to an unspecified destination, police said. Local media outlets reported that they were trying to flee to Taiwan via speedboat.
Yip Ho, the fifth defendant in the case, was accused of providing food and transport between hideouts for 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,” and to obstruct or hinder police investigations and related criminal proceedings.
Besides Tsang, Fung and Yip will also plead guilty to contempt of court, their legal representatives said.
All five of them have been in remand since their July arrests.
The five will next appear in court on May 16. No bail applications were filed and all of the defendants will remain in custody.
They could receive sentences of up to seven years in prison.
Attempt to flee
The four fugitives all faced protest-related charges at the time of their alleged attempt to flee Hong Kong.
Tsang – who was shot by a police officer at close range at a protest in Tsuen Wan on October 1, 2019 – has been charged with one count of rioting and two counts of assaulting police at that demonstration.
His lawyer said on Tuesday that, upon agreement with the prosecution, he would plead guilty to the rioting charge and one count of assaulting police, while the second police assault count would be kept on court file.
The other three defendant’s protest cases were not heard in the same court. According to The Witness, Fung, who was charged at the same Tsuen Wan protest as Tsang, intends to plead guilty, his lawyer said earlier.
Meanwhile, Ansen Wong pleaded guilty to an illegal assembly charge earlier and is awaiting sentencing. Alex Wong, the youngest of the four who was 13 at the time of his arrest, has been charged with wounding with intent, rioting and other offences over the attack on a police officer. He intends to plead guilty, his lawyer said.
In a ‘poor mental condition’
News that the four men had spent two years hiding in safehouses made local headlines in July, when they were arrested and found skinny, with long and unkempt hair and – police said – in a “poor mental condition.”
An unidentified group were said to have been supporting them, but had stopped paying rent for their hideouts or giving them food since the start of the year, according to police. Most recently, they were staying in a windowless unit in Tsuen Wan.
Officers, who arrested them in Sai Kung, added that the four had intended to leave Hong Kong. They did not identify their destination, but said they had found around TW$10,000 (HK$2,573) to TW$20,000 (HK$5,146) in their possession.
Police said Ho had provided the fugitives with food and transferred them between hideouts.
The four were previously arrested and facing charges, including rioting and taking part in an illegal assembly, linked to the protests in 2019.
Demonstrations erupted in Hong Kong three years ago over an extradition bill that would have allowed fugitives to be transferred to mainland China to stand trial. Protests ballooned into a months-long display of opposition against the Hong Kong and Beijing governments, as well as alleged police brutality during demonstrations, before coming to a halt amid Covid-19 and the passing of Beijing’s national security law.
Support HKFP | Code of Ethics | Error/typo? | Contact Us | Newsletter | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps
Help safeguard press freedom & keep HKFP free for all readers by supporting our team
Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit.