Vandals hit cemetery

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2010, 12:00am

The vandalism at St Michael's Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley has shocked Hong Kong. Thirty-seven graves and 130 vases were damaged in the city's first such large-scale attack on the graveyard.

A security guard discovered the damage on Friday morning and called the police. Tombs had been broken into, gravestones overturned and pictures of the dead destroyed.

The damaged graves include those belonging to former secretary for home affairs Peter Tsao Kwong-yung, and Harry Fan Sin-yang - an uncle of former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, and a renowned physical rehabilitation pioneer.

'I was shocked,' said Tsao's daughter on checking her father's tomb after hearing about the incident. 'Fortunately my father's tomb is fine. Only the vases had fallen down.'

The Wan Chai police handling the case said there was no evidence that any particular person or family had been the target of the vandalism.

The case has been classified as criminal damage.

'It is clear that the suspect's motive was not looting, as niches in the ossuary and columbarium, which often have valuable items inside, were not damaged,' a police officer on the case said.

The chairman of the Diocesan Board of Catholic Cemeteries, Dominic Chan Chi-ming, said extra guards had been in place at the church's cemeteries since last year.

Last April, a group of people entered the cemetery at night, and some broke into the chapel to sleep, he said.

Chan said in the latest incident, a guard had seen a middle-aged woman leave the cemetery in a hurry.