Nine arrested for cleaver attack on former Ming Pao editor

Staff members of Ming Pao newspaper take part in the march against violence on journalists in Hong Kong on March 2, 2014. Two Hong Kong men suspected of attacking former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau in a brutal cleaver attack last month have been a
Staff members of Ming Pao newspaper take part in the march against violence on journalists in Hong Kong on March 2, 2014. Two Hong Kong men suspected of attacking former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau in a brutal cleaver attack last month have been arrested in Guangdong province. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS 

TWO Hong Kong men, allegedly triad members hired as hitmen, have been arrested for carrying out last month’s cleaver attack on former journalist Kevin Lau.

Another seven suspected accomplices have also been nabbed for “varying degrees of participation” before and after the act.

Further arrests are possible, said Hong Kong’s Commissioner of Police Tsang Wai Hung in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The two suspected assailants were arrested in Dongguan in the Guangdong province where they fled to on the day of the attack. Both are 37.

On who hired the men, and the motives involved, Commissioner Tsang said that investigations so far show that “there is nothing to tie this directly to journalistic work”.

“We will leave no stone unturned,” he added.

The arrests were made with the help of mainland police.

Mr Lau, the former editor in chief of Ming Pao, was attacked on Feb 26 on his way to his usual breakfast haunt in Hong Kong's Sai Wan Ho.

One of the men hacked at him six times with a cleaver, before making a getaway on a motorcycle, in an assault described as a “classic triad-style hit”. 

Mr Lau was able to call police on his mobile phone before he lost consciousness. The police later released surveillence footage of the two suspects before the attack.

The question now is who ordered the attacks.

Speculation had swirled around his newspaper’s investigative reports into the overseas assets of Beijing’s high-ranking officials.

There were also suggestions the paper could have offended local triads. Another possibility is that there was a personal feud.

Just before the attack, Mr Lau was replaced at the helm of Ming Pao. Its journalists and the wider media industry later protested at what many believe to be an assault on press freedom.

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