4 charged in HK bomb plot denied bail

HONG KONG • Four suspects who were charged over an alleged bomb plot in Hong Kong were denied bail yesterday, in a case which has been met with scepticism by pro-demo-cracy campaigners.

Police made the arrests last month, days before lawmakers voted on a controversial Beijing-backed political reform package which had sparked mass street rallies at the end of last year.

Five men and one woman, aged 21 to 34, have been charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion after police said they found explosive chemicals during a raid.

Four of the five men applied for bail, but their requests were denied. The fifth man is also in custody, while the woman has been released on bail. The five men have been held in custody since their arrests in the middle of last month.

"Why did you appear at a place where explosives were being tested? Why did you enter the location?" questioned magistrate Don So, as he denied the bail applications. "Only you were found at the scene," he added.

Police have said that one of those arrested admitted to being part of a "radical local group".

Local media named the group as the National Independent Party and linked it to a new "localist" pro-democracy movement which is seeking a more independent Hong Kong. But activists accused the authorities of a smear campaign, with many saying they had never heard of the organisation.

During the suspects' first court appearance on June 17, they accused police of assaulting them or forcing them to cooperate by threatening them, the South China Morning Post reported at the time.

The suspects gave no further evidence yesterday. The case has been adjourned until Sept 4.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2015, with the headline '4 charged in HK bomb plot denied bail'. Print Edition | Subscribe