Hong Kong police said Wednesday that nine people have been arrested in connection with the brutal attack last month on former Ming Pao Daily chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to. Two men, said to be the actual assailants, have been arrested by mainland authorities in Dongguan on Monday, while seven suspected accomplices have been detained in Hong Kong Wednesday, officials said. Meanwhile, latest reports say two more people were taken into custody late last night, taking the total arrests to 11.
The arrests point to a significant breakthrough in the investigation into the case, but are unlikely to ease the concerns among the journalistic community and the public at large over the threats to press freedom in Hong Kong. For one thing, the mastermind remains scot-free, observers say. Lau was waylaid outside a restaurant in Hong Kong in late February and attacked with a meat cleaver, causing critical injuries.
The two assailants, both aged 37, belong to the same triad society, Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said in a media briefing Wednesday. Seven others were arrested for suspected involvement in aiding the attack, he said. All the nine people are Hong Kong residents hired by someone to mount the attack on Lau, Tsang said.
He stressed that at the moment, there is no direct evidence showing that the case is related to Lau’s work as a journalist. As there is no scheme for rendition of fugitives between Hong Kong and China, Hong Kong police can only request mainland authorities to transfer the two persons they detained in Dongguan, Tsang said.
The police will continue to investigate the case and will not rule out any possible reason for the attack, he said.
Lau’s wife Vivian Chan said Wednesday that the arrests will help maintain the rule of law in Hong Kong. She thanked the police for their efforts and voiced hopes that the mastermind will be arrested as soon as possible.
Several Hong Kong University alumni on Wednesday set up a concern group for the Lau case and raised HK$700,000 (US$89,744) to serve as a bounty for the capture of the mastermind. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, assistant professor at HKU’s Department of Professional Legal Education and a spokesperson for the group, said the arrests of the nine men are yet to clear the shadow over Hong Kong’s press freedom.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying acknowledged the help of the mainland police for the prompt arrest of the suspected attackers. The Hong Kong government has strong concern over the incident as some people feel the attack has undermined Hong Kong’s rule of law and press freedom, Leung said.
Lau was attacked in Sai Wan Ho in the eastern part of Hong Kong Island around 10:20 am on Feb. 26. He sustained six stab wounds and was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
The public was stunned by the attack, which took place after Lau was removed as Ming Pao’s chief editor in January.
Preferred stock trial run said to begin in 2H
Regulators in China could soon unveil rules on the pilot scheme for preferred stock issuance, and a trial run of the program is expected to begin in the second half of the year, China Securities Journal reported Thursday, citing sources. The program, which will allow Chinese companies to issue preferred shares, is part of the nation’s financial reforms. The first batch of firms may cover those with high debt-assets ratio, including blue-chips in banking, energy, transportation, construction and coal sectors, the report said. Qilu Securities said in a research report that about 600 billion yuan worth of preferred stock could be issued by commercial banks.
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