- Attack a normal reaction to protesters who brought violence to peaceful community, says rural leader and pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho
- Law Society receives complaints, says matter is being looked into
A pro-Beijing lawmaker on Monday defended the white-clad men who indiscriminately attacked civilians in Yuen Long on Sunday night, saying they were merely "defending their home and people".
While Junius Ho Kwan-yiu distanced himself from the assault, he said: "The sinners can be pardoned."
The rural leader is in hot water after he was filmed shaking hands with men in white clothes and thanking them on Sunday night. But it was unclear what he was thanking them for.
His defence for the white-clad men, made at a press conference at noon on Monday, further enraged the extradition bill protesters. Within hours, nearly 100 of them broke the glass walls of his empty office in Tsuen Wan.
The Law Society, of which Ho was once president, said it was "seriously looking" into calls for disciplinary action against the lawmaker for bringing disrepute to the legal profession.
Men dressed in white T-shirts were seen bashing travellers inside Yuen Long MTR station on Sunday night.
Among those attacked were protesters returning from another anti-government march opposing the now-suspended extradition bill in the heart of the city's financial district on Hong Kong Island.
At least 45 people were sent to hospital as a result of the attack, which happened at about 10.45pm.
Speaking to media on Monday, Ho admitted meeting men in white clothes at about 10pm on Sunday, saying some of them were his friends.
"Some of them I know, some are village chiefs, teachers, shop owners and car mechanics," Ho said.
He said it was a coincidence that he was in the neighbourhood.
"I live in Yuen Long, so it is normal for me to be there," Ho said.
He distanced himself from the attacks, but said the incidents were a "normal reaction to protesters who brought violence to the peaceful community after they stormed the liaison office".
"We can't pardon the sin, but we can pardon the sinners," Ho said.
On Sunday night, anti-extradition protesters clashed with police in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island " some 29km from Yuen Long.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters after they started throwing bricks and glass bottles at officers.
Ho ruled out having known about the Yuen Long attack beforehand, or having "conspired" in it, but said: "These white-clad men had already said they would drive the mob in black away if the latter dared to come to Yuen Long."
He was referring to the extradition bill protesters, many of whom wore black.
Ho also blamed Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting for "leading protesters to Yuen Long".
Lam was among those attacked on Sunday night, and was seen bleeding from his mouth.
The Democrat was rushed to hospital, where he got stitches.
About 100 protesters showed up outside Ho's office at around 3pm on Monday. Some stuck notes outside the empty office. The notes called Ho "galactic scum" and alleged he had triad links.
Others sprayed profanities on the glass and stuck a large banner outside the office.
"Rural thugs beat people up; the government and police shelter them," it read.
At 4.52pm, the protesters broke all glass walls in Ho's office. The entire premises were strewn with shards of glass, egg shells and papers. The vandals drew devil horns on a portrait of Ho. It was unclear whether they took anything away.
A young male protester, who wished to remain unnamed, said Ho failed to clear his association with the attackers.
"He condemned the (extradition) protesters, but after last night he said the lawbreakers could be forgiven," he said.
Meanwhile, the Law Society said it would follow up on the complaints against Ho for bringing disrepute to the profession.
"The Law Society is seriously looking into the matter and conducting reviews on relevant complaints, and will pass the matter to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal if necessary," the professional body said.
"Due to the confidentiality of the investigation process, the Law Society will not comment on the matter at this stage."
Society president Melissa Pang said the body had received "quite a number of complaints" but would not comment on Ho's behaviour.
"One must look at the whole context," Pang said.
Additional reporting by Alvin Lum
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