2 students convicted of arson, assault over petrol bomb attack on HK police station

02-Dec-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Two students were convicted on Wednesday of arson and assaulting an officer over a petrol bomb attack they launched last year on a Hong Kong police station.

Tsang Wa-kwan, 19, and Lo Nip-fung, 20, were each cleared of a more serious charge of arson with intent to endanger life after the District Court ruled the prosecution had failed to prove the pair aimed their firebombs at a constable posted outside Tai Po Police Station.

The two accused admitted in September before the trial began to a lesser count of arson with intent to damage property and assaulting a police officer to resist apprehension.

A third defendant, 18-year-old Kwok Hoi-dick who denied arson, walked free after the court found insufficient evidence he was one of the perpetrators captured on security camera footage.

The trio, all from the same secondary school, had been linked to the firebomb attack at the police station in the early hours of April 1, 2020.

A 45-second CCTV video of the incident showed three black-clad individuals hurling five Molotov cocktails at the police facility at about 2.25am.

The attack left scorch marks on the station’s gate and wall, but there were no casualties.

Officers subdued Tsang and Lo outside the station after a violent struggle, whereas Kwok was intercepted at a nearby park eight minutes later.

Prosecutors charged the three with the more serious offence of arson, accusing the assailants of being reckless and disregarding the risk of injury to a police constable, who was posted at the station’s entrance 15 metres from where the attack was launched.

But Judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen observed that the firebombs had only caused a small fire at the scene. He said that given the weapons’ limited strength the perpetrators could not have anticipated that the damage sustained to the exterior of the station would threaten the officer’s safety.

“The three arsonists could not have believed that they could cause serious damage to the sturdy walls and gates at the police station with such [weak] fiery objects so as to make them tilt, collapse or break apart and endanger people nearby,” Lam said.

Despite the finding, Lam said Tsang and Lo had nevertheless committed a very serious offence of arson that deserved a severe penalty.

“There were at least three people who set fire to the police station in the middle of the night. The fact there were no grave consequences was simply the course of nature, as there were no people who walked by nor things that could be burnt,” the judge said.

The pair were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on December 22, pending an assessment of their suitability for correctional training.

Arson is punishable by seven years’ imprisonment at the District Court. Assaulting a police officer carries a maximum jail sentence of two years.



Category: Hong Kong

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