case linked to Hong Kong activists who tried to flee to Taiwan
Li Wai-lung became the fourth defendant to enter a guilty plea over possession of items with intent to destroy or damage property at the District Court on Wednesday.
By Almond Li
Four men, including two who tried to flee to Taiwan by speedboat in 2019, have been remanded in custody after pleading guilty in a protest-related case.
Li Wai-lung became the fourth defendant to enter a guilty plea over possession of items with intent to destroy or damage property in front of Judge Douglas Yau at the District Court on Wednesday. Cheng Chun, Cheng Tsz-ho and Liu Tsz-man had already pleaded guilty to the same charge.
District Court. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.
The defendants stood accused of conspiring to commit arson with intent to endanger life in September 2019, while Hong Kong was in the midst of months-long protests and unrest, for which they were all acquitted. They all faced an alternative charge of possessing items with the intent to destroy or damage property.
A fifth defendant, Tang Kai-yin, is currently serving a three-year jail term in mainland China for orchestrating the attempted escape to Taiwan via speedboat for 12 Hongkongers. Cheng Tsz-ho and Liu were among the group, which was caught by the mainland Chinese coastguard.
Liu, who was a minor at the time of the unsuccessful escape, was not charged by the Chinese authorities, while Cheng was jailed for seven months in the mainland for crossing the border illegally.
The prosecution accused the defendants of possessing half-made petrol and thermite bombs in a 360 square-feet unit in Wan Chai on September 30, 2019. Police also found materials that they believed could be used for making explosives.
According to the prosecution, security camera footage captured the defendants entering and leaving the building, as well as buying drinks in glass bottles from nearby shops. Receipts of the purchases were found in Li’s personal belongings.
Cheng Chun said he knew Tang via the messaging app Telegram, and was aware of Tang’s plan to make petrol bombs. Cheng said he refused to help Tang to make explosives, and only went up to the Wan Chai unit out of curiosity. Cheng also testified that Tang handed him a key card to the unit so that Cheng could help bring other people up.
The prosecution said police had recovered Telegram chat history in which Cheng Chun and Tang discussed making petrol bombs and using them against the police, including on October 1, 2019.
Police fired tear gas on October 1, 2019. Photo: Studio Incendo.
Videos of petrol bombs being thrown were also found on Li’s phone. His browser history was said to show that he had searched for the phrase “making petrol bomb.”
The prosecution cited a government chemist as saying that there were enough materials found in the unit for 16 petrol bombs. The chemist also said petrol bombs and thermite bombs could cause serious injuries, such as grade four or five burns, and damage to the respiratory and neurological systems.
Yau adjourned the case to May 24 for mitigation and sentencing.