Dutch would-be teacher charged with arson over weekend Mong Kok protest

A riot policeman brandishes a tear gas grenade launcher at protesters in Mong Kong on Saturday night. Photo by Tommy Walker.
A riot policeman brandishes a tear gas grenade launcher at protesters in Mong Kong on Saturday night. Photo by Tommy Walker.

A Dutch would-be teacher was among four defendants charged in West Kowloon Court yesterday in relation to a pro-democracy protest in Mong Kok that turned violent over the weekend, seeing 115 people arrested.

The man, surnamed De Bruin, was arrested for allegedly setting fire to a trash bin at the junction of Shantung Street and Sai Yee Street on Saturday, during the unruly demonstration, Ming Pao reports. The gathering marked the six-month anniversary of an intense police clearance operation that saw riot cops rush into Prince Edward MTR station, beating and pepper-spraying protesters and commuters during an anti-government demonstration on Aug. 31.

The weekend’s clashes between protesters and police were reminiscent of last year’s long-running anti-government protest movement, but came as something of a surprise after months of relative calm in the city.

De Bruin’s attorney told Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen that the 31-year-old had entered Hong Kong on a tourist visa, but had hoped to obtain a work visa so he could teach at a local kindergarten, the SCMP reports.

De Bruin, whose visitor’s visa expires in May, was charged with one count of arson along with 42-year-old Tang Chun-keung, a merchandising manager. The offense is punishable by 10-year imprisonment.

The two were denied bail, and are due to appear again in Kowloon City Court on April 27.

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