Sun, Jun 09, 2019 - Page 1 News List

HK police nab four over alleged Molotov attacks

AP and Reuters, HONG KONG

Students wearing chains protest against a proposed extradition law outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Hong Kong police yesterday announced that they have arrested four men in connection with two apparent Molotov attacks on law enforcement.

The arson cases occurred on Friday, first near a police vehicle and then by a police station, the Hong Kong government said.

The attacks come as police brace for what is expected to be a major protest today against proposed changes to the territory’s extradition law that would allow suspects to be sent to China to face charges.

In the early hours of Friday, officers inside a patrolling police vehicle spotted a man holding an ignited glass bottle that he then threw toward the vehicle before fleeing.

In the afternoon, a man threw an ignited glass bottle toward the wall of a police station. It landed on the ground and erupted into flames.

The four men taken into custody are between the ages of 22 and 60, and police might still make more arrests, the Hong Kong government said.

No one was reported injured in either incident.

At least half a million people are expected to brave sweltering heat today to press the government to scrap the proposed law that would allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial, organizers of the march said.

A committee of pro-democratic groups has raised turnout estimates and were eyeing the biggest single-day rally since 2003, when a similar number of protesters forced the government to shelve tighter national security laws.

The march would end at the Hong Kong Legislative Council, where debates are to start on Wednesday into sweeping amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

The bill is due to be passed by the end of the month.

After weeks of growing local and international pressure, the protest is expected to reflect the broad range of opposition to the bill, with many saying they cannot trust China’s court system or its security apparatus.

The territory’s independent legal system was guaranteed under laws governing Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule 22 years ago, and is seen by its business and diplomatic communities as its strong remaining asset amid encroachments from Beijing.

Concerns have spread from Hong Kong’s democratic and human rights groups to secondary school students, church groups and media lobbies as well as corporate lawyers and pro-establishment business figures, some usually loathe to contradict the government.

Veteran Democratic Party Legislator James To (涂謹申) told reporters that he believed a big turnout today could finally sway Hong Kong’s embattled government.

“It could really force a severe rethink by the government,” he said. “There is everything to play for... People really sense this is a turning point for Hong Kong.”

That concern has mounted, despite extensive efforts by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) and her senior officials, in public and in private, to insist that adequate safeguards are in place to ensure that anyone facing political and religious persecution or torture would not be extradited.

Similarly, anyone facing the death penalty would not be extradited, but legislative oversight of extradition arrangements has been removed under the bill.

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