Weapons found between bunks at detention centre

A POLICEMAN told the High Court that during his six-week stint at Sek Kong detention centre, many home-made weapons were found between bunks during searches for arms.

The weapons included bamboo poles, metal pegs and iron skewers sharpened to a point.

When asked if the Vietnamese would be charged with possessing offensive weapons, Senior Inspector Tam Chi-wah said it would be difficult to prove who they belonged to.

He was testifying before Mr Justice Gall and a jury at the trial of 14 men aged between 19 and 37 who face charges of murder and rioting on February 3 last year when a hut was set ablaze, killing 24 people, half of them children.

The judge, jury and counsel visited the detention centre on Monday to see the hut where the incident took place last Lunar New Year.

The defendants were south Vietnamese while those killed were north Vietnamese who had volunteered to return to Vietnam and were awaiting repatriation.

Inspector Tam was the highest ranking officer on duty when the rioting broke out.

There was a fight at about 6.30 pm in which two people were injured, after which police searched for weapons.

Hut leaders were called to a meeting with the officer. During the meeting Inspector Tam was told at about 11 pm that a large group of men were pushing down the gates leading to section C, which housed the north Vietnamese.

He and his officers ran to the area and saw armed Vietnamese men with white headbands and armbands surging into the area.

Twenty canisters of tear-gas were fired to scare off the people.

The hearing continues.