Three Hongkongers have pleaded not guilty to inciting others to kill police officers and their family members through messages shared in a WhatsApp group in 2019, local media reported.
Alfee Kwan, a 49-year-old salesperson, Yip Tsz Hin, a 30-year-old personal trainer, and owner of an engineering company Johnny Tsang, 50, appeared in front of District Judge Kathie Cheung at District Court on Monday.
The trio have pleaded not guilty to two charges of incitement to cause grievous bodily harm with intent over messages that allegedly incited others to kill police officers or their families sent in a WhatsApp group containing around 100 people at the height of 2019 protests and unrest.
According to the prosecutor, they were suspected of mentioning using a bomb to hurt police officers and issuing a bounty for killing officers in a WhatsApp group called “HK Audi 5 Club” on October 7, 2019.
Two policemen in the group, who captured screenshots of those messages and sent them to colleagues for investigation, appeared as prosecution witnesses on Monday.
Their discussions spread hatred of the police while mentioning detailed ways to harm officers, the prosecutor told the court.
The messages were triggered by a video sent to the group, which showed security guards preventing police from entering a shopping mall during the 2019 protests and unrest.
Kwan sent messages to the group including “If the evil cops were not out of control, ordinary people would not be out of control”, “dozens of evil cops should die first,” and “no revolution is peaceful,” according to the prosecutor.
Yip, meanwhile, said in the group: “right now no one is killing policemen or their wives and children. If any martyr is willing to, I will definitely donate money to their family.”
Tsang, commented “those evil cops raped and killed others, their death will not make up for all their crimes,” the court heard.
A total of 579 messages were sent to the group in a discussion lasting around an hour and a half on the night of October 7, 2019, the court was told.
The three defendants were arrested on December 31, 2019 and were granted bail.
The prosecution said they would call three witnesses, including the two policemen who captured screenshots of the WhatsApp group and one expert witness, while the three defendants will testify later on and will call a witness as well.
Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.”
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