No mistakes, insists Hong Kong police commissioner after case against environmentalists dropped

Four activists held two days after Mong Kok riot after officers seized 18 knives, metal rods, wooden sticks, hammers, a toy gun, gloves and chemicals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 8:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 10:53pm

Despite a decision to drop a case against four environmentalists arrested in February for possessing offensive weapons, the police chief on Wednesday denied the force had made a mistake in the case.

“Such a decision does not mean that any parties in this case have made any mistake,” Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said.

Four members of an environmental group called Grebbish were arrested on February 11 during a raid on an industrial unit in Kwai Chung. Police seized 18 knives, metal rods, wooden sticks, hammers, a toy gun, gloves and chemicals, which police said at the time could have made “lethal weapons” given the right mix.

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But the group claimed the items were part of their collection for reuse or turning into handmade soap and pesticide.

The arrests were made two days after the Lunar New Year riot in Mong Kok that lasted more than 10 hours and left more than 130 people injured.

A police spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that the case had been dropped because there was not enough evidence to merit any charge.

Yesterday, Lo said that based on the circumstantial evidence, police had a reasonable suspicion, so arrests were made.

He said after the completion of the investigation, police sought advice from the Department of Justice, which assessed whether the evidence was sufficient to secure a conviction.

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Based on the department’s policy, a charge would not be made if the chance of securing a conviction was not high, the police chief said.

He said the arrested people might not be totally happy with the way police had handled the case, and they could lodge a complaint. “We have a standard procedure to deal with it,” he said.