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Mong Kok riot

Wrongly detained environmentalists lash out at Hong Kong police over ‘arbitrary’ arrest

Local authorities accused of scapegoating group who were recycling goods in the wake of the Mong Kok riots

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 9:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 10:37pm

A group of environmentalists wrongly arrested for weapons offences has accused police of using them as scapegoats in the wake of last year’s Mong Kok riots.

Ho Wai-sum, Felicity Ching, Jess Chan and Ryan Tong Chung-yan were arrested a day after the Mong Kok unrest, on February 11, at an industrial building unit in Kwai Chun. At the time, police alleged the four had possessed items that could be turned into “lethal weapons”.

However, no charges were ever laid against the group, who subsequently turned out to be simply collecting reusable items.

Speaking outside the New Territories South Regional Police Headquarters yesterday, Ho said police arrested him and his associates on February 11 to convince the public that the Mong Kok unrest amounted to rioting.

He said they had been scapegoated when police snatched them from their storage space and accused them of weapons offences. “We were a pawn in their game,” he said.

All four were at to the police station in Tai Wo Hau yesterday to collect their belongings after police decided last week that they would not be charged.

Ho said he would lodge a complaint with the Complaints Against Police Office, but was not confident that it would achieve anything. He added that he did not want an apology.

“If one needs to demand an apology, it would not be a sincere one,” Ho said.

In the statement, the four also said the arbitrary arrest had incurred financial and time loss, as well as causing emotional distress.

They said a trend of similar arrests and a failure to perform up to standards had contributed to reduced public confidence in the government.

Yesterday’s statement comes after Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said last week that police had made no mistakes in making the arrest.

The storage space in question was originally rented by Ho for other environmentalists to place their reusables.

The spaced ceased operations after the arrest, according to the group.

They displayed a long list of items yesterday including a toy gun and bottles of liquid, which contained yeast and could function as insect repellents.