Arrested riot accused sealed in cardboard boxes during hideout transfers, says national security cop
Four riot suspects, including one who got shot during a 2019 protest, were sealed inside cardboard boxes when being smuggled between different hideouts, a national security officer said, adding he was shocked and saddened by their experiences.
Senior superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah of the police’s national security department on Thursday afternoon disclosed more details of Wednesday’s operation in Sai Kung, where the four suspects aged 16-24 were trying to board a ship and flee to Taiwan after paying about HK$400,000.
They had all faced rioting and illegal assembly charges but had failed to show up in court, leading to warrants being issued for their arrests.
“Although the suspects committed crimes before and jumped bail, we were shocked and felt very sorry after seeing their outlooks and learning of their experiences. They lived their lives in fear and wasted two years of their youth in the lies of other people,” Li said.
Li invited others who encountered similar experiences to come forward and slammed the liars who promised safe and successful escape from Hong Kong were “eating human-blood steamed bun.” The phrase refers to people who take advantage of others’ sacrifice.
Police also arrested a 34-year-old male warehouse administrator on Wednesday, who was responsible for providing hideouts and food to the suspects.
Tsang Chi-kin, who got shot in the chest three years ago, appeared in Eastern Magistrates’ Courts this morning and saw the case adjourned to August 31. The other three were escorted to District Court in the afternoon, and their hearing was adjourned to September 13. They were remanded in custody.
Li continued that a group of social media users had been persuading the arrestees to jump bail and flee Hong Kong as they awaited their trials starting in 2020. The four then headed to the US Consulate General in Hong Kong on October 27, 2020, and sought political asylum but were turned away. The group then placed the four in a hideout.
“The hideout was located at an industrial building in Tsuen Wan, and the environment was very bad, for there was not even a single window. Also, these four didn’t leave their hideout for almost a year.
“To cover their tracks from police when transferring the four suspects between hideouts, the group came up with an inhumane and weird method -- to seal the four suspects in cardboard boxes and transfer them as cargo. What’s worse was that the four were not told their destinations before being put into the boxes,” Li said.
Members of the group, who once promised the four suspects a successful escape, are overseas. Yet, they still convinced the suspects to shoot videos to describe their difficult situation, claiming the videos would be used for fundraising, Li pointed out.
Things got worse early this year as the group stopped paying rent for the hideouts and the suspects had to buy food using their meager savings.
“When we arrested them, they were emaciated with long hair reaching their shoulders. They didn’t look like teenagers in their teens and 20s, and our colleagues couldn’t even recognize them,” Li added.
Li continued that police’s investigation will focus on the whereabouts of the group and the donations.
Separately, a YouTube channel named Tuesdayroad and some of the members are under investigation, according to a local report. They were suspected of involving persuading and helping the four to flee Hong Kong.