Four men have been arrested in connection with an assault on a pro-democracy activist pair who tried to film and intervene as a gang attacked a passer-by outside a Hong Kong railway station over the weekend, according to police.
The suspects, aged 31 to 43, were among a group of about 10 men believed to have been hired to guard a booth where signatures were being collected to support controversial national security legislation, a law enforcement source said on Wednesday.
The fracas erupted at about 5pm on Sunday when a male pedestrian got into an argument with supporters of the booth under a footbridge outside Fanling MTR station.
During the dispute, the gang rushed out and attacked the passer-by, according to the source.
Nearby, two pro-democracy activists, Hendrick Lui Chi-hang, 37, and Wong Ka-ho, 32, and their female assistant, 56, were holding a voter registration campaign in the street when they spotted the attack and tried to intervene.
Both Lui and Wong were defeated in the North district elections last November.
When Lui tried to film the incident with his mobile phone, the gang surrounded and kicked him. One member of the group snatched his phone and smashed it on the ground, online footage showed.
Lui was punched and fell to the ground after picking up the broken phone.
When another male passer-by was also beaten up during a dispute with the gang, Lui tried to mediate but was punched and kicked.
Police said Wong and the female assistant were also attacked and injured.
The source said he believed the group was hired as bodyguards and had hidden near the booth, jumping out when trouble flared. He said most of them were site workers and there was nothing to suggest they were triad members.
The assailants fled before police arrived. Officers scouted the area, but no arrests were made.
Lui, Wong and their assistant were injured and taken to North District Hospital in Sheung Shui for treatment.
According to police, the two passers-by who were assaulted left before officers arrived.
Police are treating the case as assault and criminal damage. Officers from the Tai Po district crime squad have been tasked to investigate.
After identifying some of the attackers, police swooped into action and arrested a 35-year-old man in Sau Mau Ping at about 6pm on Tuesday in connection with the case.
Five hours later, officers arrested another suspect – a 31-year-old man – at his home in Tai Po.
Police arrested the third and fourth suspects, aged 43 and 42, for assault and criminal damage in Kowloon City and Sheung Shui on Wednesday night.
The first two suspects, who are construction workers, were released on bail and must report back to police late next month.
The source said police were searching for other attackers.
“Police will carry out stringent enforcement actions against violent acts,” a spokesman for the force said.
The national security law is a controversial subject in Hong Kong. Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, states the city must enact such legislation to prohibit treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the central government. Authorities were forced to shelve the bill in 2003 after half a million people took to the streets.
Figures show police handled 3,902 reports of serious assault last year, up 8.8 per cent from 3,585 in 2018.
Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.
This article Four arrested over attack on Hong Kong activists who tried to intervene in fracas on street first appeared on South China Morning Post