Arrest over knife rampage threat

Local | Jane Cheung 5 Jun 2019

Quick action by Yuen Long police and anti-cyber crime officers resulted in the arrest of a "highly dangerous" young man who boasted he would randomly stab passengers on the MTR, similar to a brutal attack in Taiwan in 2014.

Officers of the Yuen Long crime unit received a report on Monday from the owner of a forum of online game Arena of Valor who intercepted a post by someone operating online under the name of Liu Kun Wa. The suspect said that he would go on a rampage similar to the Taiwanese train attack and stab people randomly on the MTR, but did not give a date, time or location. The post was subsequently deleted.

In 2014, Cheng Chieh, 23, killed four people and injured 24 when he attacked passengers at random on a Taiwanese train and a station platform. He was subdued at the scene and executed in 2016.

The local case came to public attention in a WhatsApp chat, which said police had received a report from the owner of an online platform after someone wrote a post about planning a similar attack on the MTR.

A police spokesman yesterday confirmed that officers were informed about threatening remarks appearing online and after investigation by the Yuen Long crime unit, officers arrested a 29-year-old man in Tsim Sha Tsui on Monday night for alleged criminal intimidation.

The man remains in custody.

Under the Crimes Ordinance, intimidation covers threats of injury to a person, a property or the reputation of a person and threats of any illegal actions, with the intention of alarming the person being threatened or make the person do things according to the threatener's order.

A person who commits criminal intimidation faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail after trial by jury at the High Court or a HK$2,000 fine and two years behind bars after trial at the District Court or magistrates' courts.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said that it is too early to judge whether the writer of the post has violated the law, as he did not spell out the exact time and location, or the details of how he would launch the attack in an MTR station.

"It may not constitute criminal intimidation, but in recent years we saw people being convicted because of speeches they made online," he said.

In 2006, a 42-year-old man was convicted of acts outraging public decency after he posted on an online forum calling for netizens to join his team for "Jack Rolling" to stop single women on the streets and rape them.

A year after that, another man, 22, pleaded guilty to wasteful employment of police officers after he posted on a forum he would set off bombs at Hong Kong Disneyland and the US consulate general Hong Kong.

Luk said that if a someone makes a threatening post using a computer at the library or a coffee shop, he or she may have committed the offense of access to a computer with dishonest or criminal intent, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

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