Hong Kong protests: prosecutors abandon box cutter charge, after conceding no way to prove arrestee intended violence

Brian Wong

Hong Kong prosecutors on Friday dropped charges against a student found in possession of a box cutter while on his way to a protest two months ago, citing insufficient evidence.

Fanling Court heard that Go Nim-chung, 20, had intended to go to the border town of Sheung Shui on January 5 to take part in an authorised rally against mainland Chinese shoppers and parallel traders.

But he was intercepted by police officers outside Fanling MTR Station, about 2km from Sheung Shui, and subsequently arrested for possessing the cutter.

The border town of Sheung Shui played host to a rally against mainland Chinese parallel traders on January 5. Police ended up arresting about 50 after the march deviated from its authorised route. SCMP: Sam Tsang

Senior court prosecutor Alan Yau Sik-lun told the court on Friday the prosecution had little chance of securing conviction because they could not prove the defendant had intended to wound others at the rally.

The prosecution initially insisted Go had been considered suspicious as he was wearing a black jacket, the same colour typically worn by anti-government protesters, and picked up his walking speed after noticing he was being tailed by police.

Defence counsel Vivian Wong Ying-kei disputed that interpretation, saying her client might simply have been in a hurry.

Police arrest nearly 50 accused of deviating from protest route

While not offering an explanation for why Go was carrying the box cutter, Wong said the device could just as easily have been intended for cutting paper and that its presence did not constitute proof he planned to hurt people.

“It was the prosecution’s wishful thinking to believe they could secure a conviction with the seizure of a box cutter,” Wong said.

Acting principal magistrate Don So Man-lung granted legal costs of HK$27,000 (US$3,500) to the defendant after hearing counsel’ submissions.

The January march in Sheung Shui resulted in about 50 arrests. Three other arrestees were previously charged with either possessing weapons or disorderly behaviour in a public place.

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