Viet camp blaze suspects unlikely to face charges

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 January, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 1995, 12:00am

EIGHT Vietnamese suspected of being responsible for fires in accommodation huts at the High Island detention centre will probably not be charged because of difficulties in obtaining evidence against them.

The group has been isolated from the rest of the camp's population since the blazes which broke out just hours after more than 100 people were told they were to be deported tomorrow.

None of the eight was earmarked for the forced repatriation flights, but it is understood that they may have been acting under the orders of High Island leaders who had been targeted for removal.

The fires broke out simultaneously in the early hours of last Friday and a Correctional Services Department (CSD) officer was stabbed in the ensuing chaos.

More than 20 homemade weapons were found during a search on Friday after the 104 listed for forced repatriation left the camp. Four accommodation huts were badly damaged in the fire.

Sources said investigating CSD officers had made little headway towards referring the matter to police because other detainees had refused to give evidence.

A CSD spokesman said it could be necessary to increase patrols after people were informed they were to be deported.

'Extra patrols were put on last week after the group was told they were going, but maybe we will have to look at putting in even more staff in the interests of safety for all involved,' he said.

There are 22,300 Vietnamese in Hong Kong detention centres.