Bail denied for protester in journalist assault case

Mr Fu Guohao, the reporter for the Beijing-based newspaper, was tied up with both hands held behind his head on a luggage trolley by a group of masked protesters and then assaulted on Aug 13.
Mr Fu Guohao, the reporter for the Beijing-based newspaper, was tied up with both hands held behind his head on a luggage trolley by a group of masked protesters and then assaulted on Aug 13.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • A 19-year-old part-time hotel waiter was denied bail by a Hong Kong court on Monday for allegedly being involved in beating a journalist from China at Hong Kong International Airport.

The suspect, Lai Yun-long, was accused of wounding Mr Fu Guohao, a reporter from China's nationalist tabloid Global Times. Lai also faces one count of assault causing bodily harm, and another of taking part in an unlawful assembly.

No plea was entered on Monday at the Eastern Magistrates' Court. The case was adjourned to Oct 28 to allow police more time to investigate closed-circuit television footage to ascertain whether other people were involved in the assault as well.

Despite wearing a reflective press vest, Mr Fu had his hands tied up behind his head by a group of masked protesters, who then assaulted him for about an hour. The incident happened when Mr Fu was covering a protest at the airport on the evening of Aug 13.

He was later taken to hospital for treatment and was discharged the following day.

Lai argued that he did what he did because he suspected Mr Fu was an undercover agent for the Chinese government.

Rejecting Lai's claim, the magistrate said it does not justify his alleged assault on Mr Fu.

According to the prosecutor, the defendant is also suspected of assaulting a police officer during a violent clash at New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin on July 14. During the incident, a police officer's fingertip was bitten off by a protester.

Lai will be produced in Sha Tin Magistrates' Court on Friday in connection with the Sha Tin clash.

 
 

In a separate case, Britain said yesterday it was "extremely concerned" by reports that a staff member at the consulate in its former colony of Hong Kong had been detained in China.

Mr Simon Cheng did not return to work on Aug 9 after visiting the neighbouring city of Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported, citing an interview with his girlfriend and family.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Bail denied for protester in journalist assault case'. Print Edition | Subscribe