Hong Kong police begin investigations over claims political activist was abducted

City’s police commissioner, Stephen Lo Wai-chung said officers were only made aware of the situation after Howard Lam Tsz-kin held a press conference on Friday morning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 6:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 7:39pm

Police officers collected evidence in Yau Ma Tei shortly after a Hong Kong political activist claimed that he was abducted in the busy district and then blindfolded and beaten up by mainland agents.

The commissioner of police, Stephen Lo Wai-chung stressed that he would not tolerate other law enforcement agencies carrying out duties in the city as it would be unlawful and pledged to look into the matter in accordance with Hong Kong law.

The police chief also claimed that the force only noticed the incident through the media and appealed to members of public to report cases promptly to the police, warning that delays could allow time for those involved to flee or destroy evidence.

The probe came after the Democratic Party member Howard Lam Tsz-kin held a press conference on Friday morning showing his injuries, which he claimed were caused by two Putonghua-speaking agents from the mainland.

Lam said he believed the reason for the alleged kidnapping was that he had received a signed postcard from Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi last month which he intended to pass on to Liu Xia, the widow of late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Lam went to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam at 1pm for treatment after the press conference and reported the case to the police at the hospital.

Lam said two Putonghua-speaking strangers pushed him into a van after he had bought a soccer jersey in Yau Ma Tei on Thursday afternoon. He claimed he was then tortured and later dumped on a beach by mainland China agents.

Shortly after 4pm, police officers from the regional crime unit were seen collecting evidence and looking for witnesses in Yau Ma Tei.

They carried notepads and entered the shop where Lam bought the football jersey before being taken away.

The shopkeeper, surnamed Ng, confirmed to a local media outlet that Lam was a frequent customer and that he had visited the shop between 4pm and 7pm on Thursday for a Barcelona jersey.

Ng showed reporter the receipt with the name “Tsz Kin Howard Lam” on it. Ng said Lam had asked the shop to have the name of the Barcelona football star Lionel Messi printed on two jerseys.

Ng added that he did not know the purpose of the jerseys and said Lam had left the shop after staying there for half an hour.

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Lo told reporters in the afternoon that the force attached high importance to the case as the allegations were serious and had raised public attention. He had assigned detectives from the Kowloon West regional crime unit to investigate.

“The earlier you report to the police, the higher the chance we detect the case,” Lo said.

“So far we have not obtained the case details yet as the person concerned is still at hospital at the moment. We have sent officers to approach him. We will look into the matter thoroughly once we receive the case information.

“Since we have not yet heard his account on the incident, I cannot comment on the matter.”

Lo also added that the force did not receive any information related to this case before Lam held the press conference in the morning.

A police source close to the matter said officers would check security camera footage and interview the victim as soon as possible.

“Since Lam claimed he was abducted in Yau Ma Tei – a very busy district in Hong Kong, there must be a lot of CCTV cameras installed around the area and we will check them as soon as we can,” the source said.

“The CCTV can help us identify the car, the car owners, the people involved and trace the route. We will also try to find witnesses.”