A clerical blunder by the justice department on Monday prompted police vehicles to race to a Hong Kong court, where heavily armed riot police were deployed outside as officers entered the building to arrest defendants from the city’s anti-government protests. The court drama soon escalated into a stand-off between officers armed with crowd-control weapons – including guns with rubber bullets – and protest supporters wielding umbrellas. The incident was triggered by a mistake in a “consent to prosecute” document that was handed from the Department of Justice to Eastern Court. The invalid document, which contained the wrong name of a defendant, caused the court to release and withdraw the charge against him and four co-defendants. Tension intensified when police arrived to arrest the defendants immediately after the hearing. The released defendants surrendered to the police, however, as they waited for new charges against them to be filed. The five defendants, aged between 19 and 24, were among a group of 11, including three District Council candidates, who were charged at Eastern Court on Monday. The five were charged with possessing explosive substances, purportedly 59 petrol bombs and 29 semi-petrol bombs found in a flat in Top View Mansion in Wan Chai. They group includes students Cheng Kam-fai, 21, Yeung Wing-yiu, 22, Jawin Mok Ly-tao, 21, and unemployed Yau Kin-wai, 24, and construction worker Wong Kin-ki, 19. Legal blunder sees charges dropped for suspected protester found explosives cache The consent to prosecute is permission required by the Secretary for Justice before a prosecution can take place. The justice minister can also delegate this power to the director of public prosecutions or senior prosecutors. In the English version of the consent on Monday, Yau’s name was misspelled as “Yau Kai-fai”. Only Yeung, Yau and Mok were caught in the scene at Eastern Court because the two others remained in hospital. In the attempt to arrest them, at least 11 police vehicles pulled up to the court building in Sai Wan Ho immediately after the hearing. More than 100 police officers, most in riot gear, cordoned off an area outside the court, as a dozen officers armed with batons, pepper spray and crowd-control weapons entered the court building. Supporters of the defendants unfurled umbrellas in the lobby of the court. Before the episode, three pro-democracy District Election candidates faced charges in the court of unlawful assembly and obstructing police officers over the anti-government protests on Saturday. Man Nim-chi, 29, and Osman Cheng Chung-hang, 30, accused the authorities of spreading “white terror” among pro-democracy candidates by arresting them. Their case was adjourned to December 16. The third candidate, Richard Chan Chun-chit, 47, remained in hospital. He will be brought to court as soon as he is discharged, no later than November 7. Four other defendants, aged between 16 and 25, were charged at Eastern Court with possessing an instrument fit for unlawful purpose and with an intent to use it for unlawful purpose. Three turned up in court, and their case adjourned. One remained in hospital. Man, Cheng and the three other defendants were granted cash bail between HK$1,000 and HK$3,000 (US$382) with the conditions not to leave Hong Kong and to stay at the address they provided to the court.