Hong Kong protests: 13-year-old arrested on suspicion of assaulting police officer is among seven seized in early morning raids
a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Anti-government protesters gather at Chater Garden in Central for an approved rally on January 19. Photo: Felix Wong © Felix Wong Anti-government protesters gather at Chater Garden in Central for an approved rally on January 19. Photo: Felix Wong
  • Two secondary school pupils and university student also taken into custody
  • Incident occurred after police halted Chater Garden rally in January

A 13-year-old is among seven people who have been arrested on suspicion of assaulting four police officers when an approved anti-government rally in January was stopped by the force, police said on Thursday.

The seven local residents, all males aged between 13 and 34, were picked up when officers raided a number of locations in Mid-Levels, Wong Tai Sin, Lam Tin and Tseung Kwan O on Wednesday morning.

"During the arrest operation, we seized the outfits, shoes and rucksacks worn by those we arrested when they committed the crime,” said Superintendent Raymond Chou, of the narcotics bureau.

The rally took place at Chater Garden in Central on January 19, and Chou said the suspects were all wearing masks and similar outfits at the time of the incident.

"We have conducted an in-depth investigation and also gone through a large amount of security camera footage and live video footage to identify the suspects,” he said.

Police said the suspects were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life in jail.

As well as the 13-year-old, two secondary school pupils and one university student were arrested.

According to police, the youngest suspect was released on bail pending further investigation.

As of Thursday afternoon, the other six were still being held for questioning and had not been charged.

Chou said further arrests were possible.

On January 19, protesters took part in the approved rally at 3pm to demand electoral reforms for September’s legislative elections, and to urge the international community to impose sanctions on the Hong Kong government if their calls were ignored.

About an hour later, the rally descended into mayhem when police declared it was over after skirmishes between protesters and officers nearby.

Officers were surrounded, punched and kicked by a large crowd of radicals in Chater Garden and then retreated to outside the Cheung Kong Centre, where they were attacked with umbrellas, retractable batons and bricks.

Chou said four officers were injured in the incident and one of them suffered a skull fracture after being hit with a brick.

The organiser of the rally, Ventus Lau Wing-hong, 26, was arrested the same day. He was later charged with one count of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly, and one of refusing or wilfully neglecting to obey police officers’ orders.

The offences are punishable by a maximum term of five years and one year in prison, respectively.

Lau appeared at Eastern Court on January 21. He was granted bail at HK$10,000 cash plus HK$10,000 surety until his next hearing on April 14.

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