Feb 25, 2016

Five Hongkongers arrested for bomb hoax at Falun Gong event

The two men and three women, some with suspected triad links, were allegedly hired to disrupt controversial religious group’s annual conference by planting fake explosive device

 

South China Morning Post

February 25, 2016

Danny Mok

 

Five people have been arrested for allegedly staging a bomb threat at a Tsim Sha Tsui hotel in an attempt to disrupt a Falun Gong conference.

The bomb scare at BP International, a four-star hotel on Austin Road, on January 17 resulted in the evacuation of 1,600 guests. Experts and robots from the police Explosive and Ordnance Disposal Bureau were deployed.

Officers found a box wrapped in gift paper that contained five 25cm-long liquefied petroleum gas canisters, usually used with portable stoves, tied together and hooked up to two electronic timers in a men’s toilet on the first floor of the hotel.

It was later confirmed that the device was not a bomb and could not have caused an explosion.

On that day, some 1,200 local and overseas members of Falun Gong, a controversial religious sect, were holding their annual conference in a hall on the first floor of the hotel, while a group of anti-Falun Gong activists staged a protest outside the building.

The mainland has branded Falun Gong an evil cult, and outlawed it in 1999, but the sect is still tolerated in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, five Hongkongers, two men and three women aged 25 to 35, were nabbed in Yau Ma Tei, Prince Edward and Tai Po, said Lo Chung-wong, acting chief inspector of the Kowloon West regional crime unit.

Lo said the group, which included some suspected triad members, had been hired by an undisclosed party to interrupt the conference.

“We believe this was a plotted bomb threat aimed at disrupting an activity in the hotel on that day,” Lo said.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said the five were believed to have been paid several thousand dollars for carrying out the hoax.

Lo said investigators were looking into whether the suspects were connected to the explosion involving the same kind of gas canister outside the Legislative Council building on December 9. No links between the two cases have been found so far.

Officers found no explosives while searching the suspects’ residences.

The group is believed to have demonstrated a “careful division of labour”, with someone designated to set the “bomb” while the others kept watch, Lo said, adding that further arrests might be possible.

Last night, one of the male suspects was taken to the hotel and to the nearby King George V Memorial Park for a case reconstruction.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1916545/five-hongkongers-arrested-bomb-hoax-falun-gong-event

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