Former Occupy activist nabbed at Hong Kong airport over alleged involvement in Mong Kok riot as groups slam police probe efforts
Student-led group Scholarism confirms member Derek Lam Shun-hin was arrested but claims he neither attacked police nor committed violent acts
A member of the student-led group Scholarism was arrested at Hong Kong International Airport’s departure hall on Wednesday morning, on suspicion of involvement in the riot in Mong Kok on Monday night.
Confirmation from the group came about an hour after police said they arrested a man related to the unrest in Mong Kok.
In a message sent by Scholarism, a spokesperson said the arrestee was Derek Lam Shun-hin.
The group demanded Lam’s immediate release, saying the student was only in Mong Kok to buy food from street hawkers.
“He left Mong Kok at about 2.15am on Tuesday morning, and did not attack any policemen or did anything violent,” the message stated.
The spokesperson added that Lam was leaving Hong Kong to travel to Taipei with his family.
Scholarism later released another message, accusing the police of searching Lam’s home without a court warrant.
“It was lucky that Lam’s lawyer arrived three minutes after Lam and the police entered Lam’s home, and the police was forced to abort the search,” a spokesperson said. “This episode shows that the police have abused their power to the extreme, and ignored protocols in their work.”
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Lam had previously been charged with common assault for his involvement in the seizure of Civic Square in Admiralty in the run-up to the Occupy movement of 2014. His trial was scheduled to start on February 18.
It was understood that Lam was detained at Sau Mau Ping police station in Kowloon.
On Scholarism’s claim that the police searched Lam’s home without a warrant, a police spokeswoman told the Post that “the police followed protocol and obtained the arrestee’s consent before searching his home in Western district, but that during the search the arrestee’s lawyer requested to meet the arrestee, and he left his home accompanied by officers”.
The spokesperson added that police searched Lam’s home again later after obtaining a court warrant.
In a message sent to media shortly before 6pm Wednesday, a Scholarism spokesperson quoted Lam’s lawyer as saying that Lam would be charged with “taking part in a riot” under Section 19 of the Public Order Ordinance.
According to the ordinance, an unlawful assembly is a riot when a participant commits “a breach of the peace”. The offence carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.
The police had yet to confirm whether anyone would be charged for taking part in a riot, and a police source would only state that no charge had yet been made, noting the police could detain suspects for up to 48 hours. The source added that the investigation was ongoing.
It was understood that no one in Hong Kong had been charged for taking part in a riot since 2000, when more than 20 inmates were convicted and jailed for taking part in a melee that broke out at Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre.
After Lam’s arrest, the police arrested another man, in Sham Shui Po, in relation to the Mong Kok riot, and seized evidence including five walkie-talkies at his home.
Another group, Hong Kong Indigenous, whose leader Edward Leung Tin-kei was arrested in relation to the riot, claimed on its Facebook page that police officers had been “arresting and trying to force their way into homes” of the group’s members.
It said about 20 members or volunteers of the group had been arrested to date.
The police only said that they had arrested the 64th suspect related to the Mong Kok riot, in Sheung Shui, at about 2pm on Wednesday. But the force had yet to respond to the two groups’ accusations or disclose further details about the latest arrests.
Since the end of the unrest, 55 men and 9 women, ranging in age from 15 to 70, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Mong Kok violence. They were alleged to be involved in offences such as participating in unlawful assembly, attacking police officers, refusing to be arrested, obstructing the police’s work or carrying weapons.