Hong Kong police officer coerced teen into taking blame for school fire two years ago, judge rules

hong kong police officer coerced teen into taking blame for school fire two years ago, judge rules

A Hong Kong police officer coerced a student into admitting liability for a fire at his alma mater two years ago, a judge has ruled in clearing the teenager of three charges.

The District Court arbiter on Thursday explained his decision last month to acquit 17-year-old Chang Hoi-kit in the middle of the trial on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to establish a viable case against him.

Chang was initially accused of setting fire to the main entrance of Lok Sin Tong Leung Chik Wai Memorial School at Cheung Hong Estate in Tsing Yi alongside 19-year-old schoolmate Kwan Ho-hon in the early hours of July 24, 2020.

The former was also charged with smashing glass windows at the entrance with two extendable batons in an earlier incident on May 25.

hong kong police officer coerced teen into taking blame for school fire two years ago, judge rules

Firefighters tackle a blaze at the entrance of Lok Sin Tong Leung Chik Wai Memorial School in Tsing Yi. Photo: Facebook

But judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen found there was no case to answer for Chang in relation to charges of arson with intent, criminal damage and possessing offensive weapons in a public place.

In the absence of witnesses, prosecutors had supported their case with Chang’s admissions during a police interview, where the then Form Four student said he had initiated the attacks as he was upset by the school’s refusal to suspend classes during the 2019 social unrest in the city.

In the trial earlier this year, Chang testified that a detective sergeant, only identified in court by his serial number 52861, had intimidated him into admitting the offence of criminal damage by threatening to arrest his parents and pressing more serious charges of arson and riot against him.

The student also complained about investigators’ departure from internal guidelines during his arrest, including the failure to remind him of his legal rights before the interview.

Lam ruled in favour of Chang after finding the sergeant had failed to justify the detention of the student’s parents even though they were clearly uninvolved.

“[The sergeant] failed to provide a reasonable explanation for escorting [Chang’s] parents to the police station, which made me wonder whether the defendant, as he had said, was indeed intimidated into cooperating and making the confessions,” Lam said.

The judge also accepted the evidence of Chang’s mother that no police officers had cautioned the defendant or formally announced his arrest in line with established protocols.

Even if Chang had admitted the crime voluntarily, it would have been the result of officers flouting internal rules and depriving the defendant of his right to remain silent by deliberately neglecting to caution him, the judge added.

Kwan, meanwhile, was convicted of a count of arson on Thursday after Lam identified him as one of the masked assailants captured on security footage who poured flammable fluids at the school’s entrance on the night concerned.

The judge refused to find Kwan guilty on the more serious charge of arson with intent, citing the lack of evidence he had intended to endanger others’ safety with his actions.

The 19-year-old was remanded in custody until sentencing on July 7.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Why this 25-year-old is not leaving Hong Kong

I was born roughly 100 days after the handover. In the 25 years since, I have seen the city – my home – struck by three pandemics, rebound from two ... Read more »

Moderna seeking Hong Kong regulatory approval for Omicron-targeted Covid-19 booster vaccine

Moderna is seeking regulatory approval from Hong Kong authorities to offer the city’s first Omicron-targeted Covid-19 vaccine and has promised to provide at least eight million doses to cover all ... Read more »

Hong Kong police’s elite squads to get new uniforms for better protection, easier identification during operations

Hong Kong police’s elite squads will hit the streets on July 1 wearing new uniforms that allow for better protection and easier identification during operations. Officers from the Airport Security ... Read more »

Two years on, national security law proves its worth in safer, more stable Hong Kong

After nearly two years of Hong Kong’s national security law, critics condemning it seem more anxious to have their worst fears vindicated than disproved. The city was said to be ... Read more »

Hong Kong’s largest journalist group insists it operates in accordance with law after being asked by authorities to justify activities

Hong Kong’s biggest journalist group has insisted it has been operating in accordance with the law after it was asked by labour authorities to justify its activities for the second ... Read more »

Hong Kong PLA garrison to be combat-ready for ‘toughest and most complicated’ situations amid security threats, commander vows

The Hong Kong garrison of the People’s Liberation Army will be combat-ready for the “toughest and most complicated” situations, its commander has vowed, as the city prepares for the 25th ... Read more »

Campaigners: rent control law fails to help Hong Kong’s poorest and leaves loopholes for landlords

A campaign group has said legislation designed to control rents had failed to help Hong Kong’s underprivileged and encouraged rent increases. The Society for Community Organisation appealed to the government ... Read more »

Hong Kong’s finance chief says he has ‘stood firm’ in defending national, financial security while assessing tenure

Hong Kong’s financial secretary has said he has held fast to defending national and financial security as he assessed his tenure over the past five years under Carrie Lam Cheng ... Read more »

National, Hong Kong flags found damaged at public housing estates, some with black marks on yellow stars of banners

National and Hong Kong flags have been found damaged at some public housing estates in the city, ahead of the 25th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule. Police received ... Read more »

Hong Kong customs intercepts Macau-bound riverboat suspected of smuggling HK$23 million in cash, arrests 2

Hong Kong customs has intercepted a riverboat bound for Macau suspected of smuggling HK$23 million (US$2.9 million) in cash, marking the first time such a vessel has been used to ... Read more »

Coronavirus Hong Kong: hospitals experience uptick in Covid-related admissions as city logs over 1,900 cases

Hong Kong hospitals have experienced a slight uptick in coronavirus-related admissions but the number of serious cases is stable, a health official has said, as the daily caseload remained in ... Read more »

Hong Kong not a ‘showflat for Western democracy, must win back Beijing’s trust with political security, avoiding harmful actions’

Hong Kong should win back Beijing’s trust by ensuring its political security and refrain from doing anything harmful to both the country and the city, two pro-establishment heavyweights said on ... Read more »

Hong Kong activist granted political asylum by Sweden in security law first for EU

Sweden has granted political asylum to a Hong Kong journalist and activist, ruling that he would otherwise “risk arrest” in the city for activities that would be “considered in breach ... Read more »

Regina Ip is the right choice to steer Hong Kong’s comeback as Exco convenor

Hong Kong is definitely headed for more changes as this city enters its second half of the 25 years of the promised “one country, two systems” arrangement. Many have been ... Read more »

Coronavirus: Hong Kong frontline workers still waiting for Covid-19 subsidies because companies are refusing to apply

A 62-year-old contract cleaner and breadwinner for her family has still not got a special Hong Kong government Covid-19 subsidy three months after she asked her employer to submit a ... Read more »

The Canto-pop comeback: Hong Kong’s beloved brand of music returns with a bang

Eclipsed by the rise of K-pop and Mandopop, Canto-pop’s popularity went dark for many years, until it found its voice again. For decades, it felt as if the historical performance ... Read more »

Hong Kong conservationists call for protection of old Chinese banyan tree, historical dispensary in Kowloon City

An old Chinese banyan tree and a historical dispensary in Kowloon City are too valuable to be relocated or removed as the result of a redevelopment project and should be ... Read more »

Too fast, too furious: Hong Kong’s classic car lovers slam new anti-pollution rule as hasty fix that they say will cripple sector and hobby

Classic car lover Victor Ma Tai-lap, 53, is fiercely proud of his Willys MB Jeep, a green American military truck made in 1943. Classic cars mean the world to the ... Read more »

Business chambers in Hong Kong urge Beijing’s liaison office to help push for removal of Covid-19 quarantine measures to revive ailing economy

Business chambers in Hong Kong have urged Beijing’s representatives in the city to help push for the immediate relaxation of its stringent Covid-19 quarantine measures to resuscitate the economy and ... Read more »

Hong Kong’s largest public healthcare workers union opts to dissolve as journalism group lowers vote threshold to disband

Hong Kong’s largest public healthcare workers union which organised a general strike to demand the authorities close the border with mainland China during the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak ... Read more »

Hong Kong national security police arrest 2 more suspected to be linked to possible bomb plots involving 30kg of chemicals

Hong Kong national security police on Friday arrested two more people suspected to be linked to possible bomb plots foiled by officers last month when they seized about 30kg of ... Read more »

Coronavirus: Hong Kong hospitals can cope with Covid surge, official says, as city logs 1,680 new local cases, 114 imported infections

Hong Kong’s public hospitals are able to cope with the recent surge in coronavirus cases, a health official has said, with the city’s daily caseload remaining in the four-digit range ... Read more »

Hongkongers all: drawn to the city for different reasons, they call it home

They came to Hong Kong at different times, from different places to make the city home. They witnessed the changes in the city over the decades as it went from ... Read more »

Coronavirus: Hong Kong hotels raise rates for quarantine rooms as number of arrivals to city outpaces available spots

More than 40 quarantine hotels in Hong Kong have raised their room rates by up to 80 per cent since the launch of the scheme 1½ years ago, as the ... Read more »

Immigrant who swam to Hong Kong and dropped out of school to work becomes highly qualified chef honoured by Japan

Not long after Wan Tat-kong swam from mainland China to Hong Kong as an illegal immigrant in the early 1960s, he had to quit studying and worked in a restaurant ... Read more »

Xi Jinping to attend 25th anniversary celebrations of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty and swearing-in of new city leader John Lee

Chinese President Xi Jinping will officiate at the event to mark the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule and swear in a new administration. State ... Read more »

Hong Kong’s Asian expats still see city as a ‘land of opportunities’

Several years of political turmoil and the pandemic have sparked an exodus from Hong Kong as it marks the 25th anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty. But how do ... Read more »

How Hong Kong’s redevelopment projects can be showcases of ‘organic city’ growth

When asked about “organic architecture”, the general public – as well as some architects – might have the false impression it involves structures built in organic shapes or resembling natural ... Read more »

Hong Kong customs seizes 3.8 tonnes of date rape drug GBL in first half of 2022, dwarfing amount detected over past decade

Hong Kong customs has confiscated 3.8 tonnes of a date rape drug so far this year, dwarfing the total amount seized in the decade since it was made illegal in ... Read more »

Cracks in first-floor flat hanging above passers-by in Hong Kong spark calls for inspection of nearby structures

Deep cracks running along the outer wall of a flat on the first floor of a residential building in Hong Kong’s Yau Tsim Mong district have prompted residents and an ... Read more »

First phase of new cable works completed, Hong Kong power firm says, days after fire from high-voltage lines caused widespread blackouts

A Hong Kong power company has completed the first phase of cable-laying works days after a fire on high-voltage lines triggered outages across three districts, while a lawmaker has suggested ... Read more »

Hong Kong Book Fair to begin on July 20 but some publishers banned with ‘no reason’

Asia’s largest annual book fair will be held on July 20 and titled “Reading the World: Stories of Hong Kong”, but with some publishers banned from the event. The theme ... Read more »

Hong Kong court orders European firm to pay HK$150,000, apologise to former employee sacked over sexual harassment claim

A Hong Kong court has ordered one of Europe’s largest financial information companies to pay HK$150,000 (US$19,110) in damages and issue a formal apology to a former employee it sacked ... Read more »

Hong Kong customs officers arrest 5 men after seizure of HK$4.5 million worth of frozen meat from ship

A total of 40 tonnes of frozen meat worth HK$4.5 million was seized and five men arrested after Hong Kong customs officers intercepted a cargo vessel in an anti-smuggling operation ... Read more »

Beijing’s boost to Nansha will bring opportunities for Hong Kong, not rivalry, Guangzhou mayor says

A senior mainland Chinese official has dismissed suggestions Guangzhou’s Nansha district may become a competitor to Hong Kong, arguing Beijing’s plan to boost technological innovation in the development zone will ... Read more »

Hong Kong chauffeur acquitted on charge of inciting members of drivers’ WhatsApp group to attack police with machetes

A chauffeur accused of inciting members of a drivers’ WhatsApp group to attack Hong Kong police officers with machetes during the 2019 social unrest has been cleared of the charge ... Read more »

Why Hong Kong’s new textbooks for secondary schools have stopped calling the city a British colony

New secondary school textbooks for Hong Kong’s revamped liberal studies course have become the subject of controversy after the learning materials stated the city was an occupied territory rather than ... Read more »

Hong Kong police arrest 1,800 people, aged 11 to 90, in first four weeks of cross-border crime crackdown

Hong Kong police have rounded up more than 1,800 people, ranging from gangsters to children as young as 11, in the first four weeks of a crackdown on organised crime ... Read more »

Coronavirus: Beijing making contingency plans for Hong Kong government swearing-in ceremony on July 1 after 2 top city officials catch Covid-19

Beijing is making contingency plans for the inauguration of Hong Kong’s new government next Friday, such as sending a senior official to the city to officiate at the swearing-in ceremony ... Read more »

Weighing up Hong Kong’s legal system 25 years after handover: making sure the law still rules

Like other star lawyers of his era, Geoffrey Ma Tao-li’s career was at its peak when Hong Kong was reunited with mainland China in 1997. The city’s Basic Law or ... Read more »