A Hong Kong teenager who was shot by police during last year’s protests and faced charges of rioting and assaulting police has gone into exile, according to an overseas activist group.
Tsang Chi-kin, 19, was set to appear in District Court on Tuesday afternoon on one count of rioting and two counts of assaulting police during the demonstration on October 1, 2019. The court issued a warrant for his arrest.
On that day, Hong Kong witnessed citywide chaos as pro-democracy demonstrators clashed with police in numerous districts as they “mourned” the Chinese National Day. Tsang, who allegedly waved a rod at an officer in Tsuen Wan, was shot by a police live round at close range. The then-18-year-old was for a time in critical condition after the bullet pierced his left lung three centimetres from his heart.
According to local media, Tsang signalled his intention to plead guilty to the offences when the case was mentioned in October. He was released on cash bail of HK$5,000 at the time and required to report to Tsuen Wan Police Station every week. The activist was not allowed to leave Hong Kong.
Prosecutors said on Tuesday that Tsang last reported to the force on October 24 and officers could not find him at his residence on Sunday, local media reported.
The London-based advocacy group Friends of Hong Kong said Tsang had gone into exile but gave no details. “Kin, along with his group who is still free, is now formally declaring that they are in exile,” it said in a statement.
Tsang disclosed in the statement that he was among a group of Hong Kong protesters who had sought assistance in vain at the US consulate in Hong Kong on October 27 this year.
“Tsang Chi-kin will never surrender himself to face political prosecution from the Beijing-controlled Hong Kong government. He will stand up and fight against the CCP as long as he could,” Friends of Hong Kong wrote.
Friends of Hong Kong said Tsang and others are staying with a US citizen named Ansen and their case has attracted the attention of the US government and other countries. The group said it would take care of their welfare.
Tsang’s 15-year-old girlfriend reportedly fled to the UK last week to seek political asylum, also with the help of Friends of Hong Kong. She became the youngest Hongkonger to go into exile following involvement in the months-long pro-democracy protests.
Tsang had previously applied for legal aid for filing a claim for personal injury against the force. But the department rejected his application, citing failure to show “reasonable grounds” for making the proceedings, and said the police use of force was reasonable.