The Commissioner of Police Intends to Use Anti Terrorism Laws to Prosecute Protesters

Hong Kong police has arrested a total of 17 persons linked with 3 bomb plots earlier this year. On 11 March, six of them were charged for "conspiracy to cause an explosion that is likely to endanger life or property". In an exclusive interview with Ming Pao, Commissioner of Police P. K. Tang said that he is currently studying with the Department of Justice on whether he will amend the charge from the "Crimes Ordinance" to the "United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance". They have not reached a conclusion yet. If the charges are amended, it will be the first time that Hong Kong has initiated a prosecution under the " United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance since its enactment.
The three bomb plots respectively happened on 27 January in a men ’s toilet at Caritas Medical Hospital, 28 January in the Shenzhen Bay Border Control Point and on 7 February on a train in Lo Wu Station. Afterwards, someone issued posts in the Telegram group to acknowledge responsibility. The police has arrested a total of 17 people since early March. Six of them were charged with “conspiracy to cause an explosion that is likely to endanger life or property” and were brought to court for mention last week.

In an interview with Ming Pao, P. K. Tang  stated that the prosecution charged the six persons with the “Crimes Ordinance”. He is currently studying with the Department of Justice on whether to amend the charges  to  United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance”. There is no conclusion yet. Once the charges are changed, it will be the first time Hong Kong has cited it since it enactment in 2002. Tang described the incidents as “native terrorism”.

According to United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance”, terrorist acts include  action that causes serious violence against a person, serious damage to property, endangers a person’s life, creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public, seriously interferes an electronic system, or seriously disrupts an essential service, facility or system,  intending to compel the government or an international organisation, or to intimidate the public, for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

Both the United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance  and the Crimes Ordinance provide offences against explosives. The maximum penalty for both is life imprisonment. The United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinace
 prohibit the planting of bombs in infrastructure, public places, public transportation systems, state or government facilities. Crimes Ordinance does not specify any designated places and provides for life imprisonment only when "an nature of the explosion is likely to endanger life or to cause serious damage to property".

James To, a legislature member from the Democratic Party said that, in general the threshold for a conviction under the United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance  is much higher than the criminal offences. ” You must be able to really concretely prove that his behavior in planting the bomb is related to some sort of ideology, political belief” He pointed out that even in conflicts broke out during demonstration advocating specific appeals, it is still difficult to invoke United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance to successfully prosecute for bomb plot. ” His behavior might aim at stopping the advance of the Police. The issue is whether the prosecution can prove the act is related to the ideology. ”

When being asked if conviction can be secured under United Nations (Anti Terrorism Measures) Ordinance if the bomb plots is connected with the appeal to close the border. To said the closure of border is a political appeal, if the act intended to threaten the government to achieve a political end. There is a chance of conviction. "Unless when he was arrested and brought to the police station, he admitted the two are connected; (he) committed the violent act to achieve a political purpose, then there is a chance of conviction. But of course, this is still very loose. (The question) even is why did he say such a thing in the police station at that time?"

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