‘Dragon Slayer Brigade’ bomb plot ringleader used HK$300,000 from crowdfunding to gamble, Hong Kong court hears | South China Morning Post

Plot mastermind Wong Chun-keung also said on Monday in cross-examination that he was beaten and slapped in the face by police during an interrogation after his arrest on December 8, 2019.

The court earlier heard Wong’s evidence that suggested he used a Telegram channel that was for the sole purpose of raising funds for his team, which comprised about 10 protesters, between November and December 2019.

Last week, Wong told the court the channel received about HK$300,000 within a month and used some of the donations to buy firearms and plan an escape to Taiwan.

But in the witness box on Monday, Wong admitted to using money gained from crowdfunding to gamble, with the earliest transaction made in September that year.

“There were quite a lot of donations at that time. I used about HK$300,000 of the donations to gamble. For me, it was a way to de-stress,” he said. “It was not a good approach indeed, but this was what I thought at that time.”

He earlier said he was the only person to have control of the team’s finances.

Wong pleaded guilty to a joint count of conspiracy to plant two bombs in Wan Chai on December 8, 2019. Six other defendants, including his alleged team member Cheung Chun-fu, denied the charge.

Wong also admitted to one count of conspiracy to provide or collect property to commit terrorist acts.

Dick Lee Kwok-fu, Cheung’s defence counsel, said Wong used some of the money to feed his gambling habit rather than spending HK$100,000 on 100 petrol bombs as he had claimed in an earlier statement.

But Wong denied it and said he did not exaggerate prices, adding he did not compare how much petrol bombs usually cost.

Lee said that according to Wong’s Hong Kong Jockey Club betting account, the defendant had made five-figure bets on football games totalling more than HK$297,900.

Telegram chat records displayed in court last week showed that Wong sent a message to the crowdfunding group and appealed for financial support for the team’s escape plan if the plot were to be successful.

Lee showed the court another Telegram conversation between Wong and a woman named “Pui-yi”, revealing that Wong alerted the latter to help him pack a day before the plot.

Lee said not only did Wong not inform the team about the escape plan but also bought tickets only for himself and another team member, contrary to his claims of fleeing with the whole group.

Wong said he told the group a second military training exercise would take place in Taiwan in late December that year, so the team, including Cheung, was “supposed to know” they were leaving Hong Kong.

The court last month heard testimony from a national security officer, who took a non-prejudicial statement from Wong in September last year. Wong was given immunity by the Department of Justice as a witness in exchange for that testimony.

When Lee asked if he was coerced to give statements and disclose phone passwords in two video interviews with police, Wong said that officers used force.

“Some officers swung batons at my body and slapped my face, but that is all I could remember,” he told the court. “I felt pain, but I cannot determine if they were beating me up.”

Lee asked: “As you said you were in turmoil and not in a good state of mind, did you tell the truth to police?”

But Wong repeatedly said he could not recall what he said during the interviews.

“In that chaotic situation, I told [the officer] what I thought was the truth,” he said.

While Lee also recapped Wong had told officers that he would be given more than HK$1 million once he fled to Taiwan, Wong replied he did not remember.