Police seek links in Lee murder plot

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2009, 12:00am

Police have investigated possible links between a foiled assassination plot targeting Democratic Party founder Martin Lee Chu-ming and an attack in 2006 on fellow Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan.

The South China Morning Post understands police explored a number of links between the foiled plot on Mr Lee and a beating attack on Mr Ho, including whether they were organised by the same triad society. The disclosure comes as the Legislative Council security panel meets today to discuss the assassination plot.

On Saturday, the Post reported that a mainland hit man had targeted Mr Lee in the plot, foiled in August last year during the Legco election campaign. Two men, aged 49 and 50, have been arrested and will appear in court this month.

A police spokeswoman said she could not discuss details of the case because it was before the courts. 'But the public can be assured that the force is very concerned about these kind of crime cases and we are determined and capable of maintaining law and order in Hong Kong,' the spokeswoman said.

Mr Ho, the Democratic Party chairman, was beaten in a McDonald's restaurant in Queen's Road Central in August 2006 by thugs wielding baseball bats.

While four men were jailed for the attack, District Court judge Kevin Browne said the case was far from resolved and described the self-confessed ringleader's reason for orchestrating the attack - paying back the lawmaker for refusing to give financial help - as 'inherently incredible'.

Mr Ho last night would not rule out the two cases being linked and said he believed police should get to the bottom of the matter.

The two men charged in the plot against Mr Lee allegedly conspired with a number of others in the incident, which involved smuggling a gun and ammunition into Hong Kong from the mainland.

Commissioner of Police Tang King-shing has confirmed the plot was made against Mr Lee. Police believe the case is connected to Mr Lee's and Mr Ho's legal work, rather than to their pro-democracy political activities. Mr Lee is a senior counsel and Mr Ho a solicitor.

A well-placed political source, with knowledge of the case, said he had heard the police had linked the two cases to the same mastermind.

'The reason why police would reveal it at this moment is that it is a tactic to get anyone who has certain information to come forward,' the source said.

Mr Lee said he would not speculate on whether there was a link between the two cases. 'But as long as the mastermind who tried to kill me has not been caught, we cannot say that both cases have been solved. They can send a killer once - they can try killing me again,' he said. 'The person has still not been caught.'

Mr Lee said the disclosure by the Post of the foiled assassination plot 'actually made it safer for me' because the mastermind would be deterred from acting by the public attention given to the case.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, deputy chairman of the Legco security panel, said he would raise the matter as an urgent item for discussion at today's meeting.

'We are talking about an attempted assassination in Hong Kong. Even though Martin said he was not afraid to die, Hong Kong is not a jungle. The issue at hand is whether Hong Kong, as a civilised society with a peaceful political culture, would tolerate such a blatant attack on our rule of law by plotting to kill a leading political figure,' he said.