Police in southern China arrested the suspected mastermind and six accomplices behind a plot to shoot Hong Kong’s leading pro-democracy campaigner Martin Lee (李柱銘), a report said yesterday.
The Sunday Morning Post, citing unnamed Chinese police sources, said officers in Shenzhen had arrested a Hong Kong man allegedly behind the plot and six accomplices with links to Hong Kong organized crime gangs known as triads.
It said the case was due to go before a court in Shenzhen on Thursday.
A Hong Kong court earlier this month sentenced a mainland Chinese gunman to 16 years in jail for possessing firearms with the intention to harm Lee.
A second man was handed a three-year jail term for possessing firearms in connection with the plot which allegedly also targeted media mogul Jimmy Lai (黎智英).
“If this guy really is the mastermind, this is a big step forward in the investigation,” the Post quoted Lee as saying in response to news of the arrests in Shenzhen.
Lee is a founding member of the city’s Democratic Party and a top barrister. Lai is chairman of Next Media, which runs newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan that are strongly critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
Both Lee and Lai were also at the forefront of the campaign to commemorate the 1989 protests on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square that were ended by a bloody military crackdown.
The plot was foiled after an officer stopped the gunman by chance at a police checkpoint in August last year. He was found to have a homemade pistol and five rounds of ammunition in his bag.