Hong Kong police deploy bomb squad in court

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HONG KONG, Nov. 16 (Reuters) – Hong Kong police on Tuesday evacuated 32 people from a city court and deployed explosives disposal experts, police said, while media reported that suspicious envelopes addressed to judges had been sent to two different courts.

Police said they responded to reports from court staff in West Kowloon, where the evacuation took place, but did not immediately give further details. The city government has said it deplores the intimidation of judges.

Hong Kong judges have faced criticism from both pro-Beijing and democracy supporters in a deeply divided city following protracted anti-government unrest in 2019.

Media, including the South China Morning Post newspaper, cited unidentified sources as saying the evacuation was linked to suspicious letters sent to judges in two different courts in envelopes containing white powder.

The Justice Department of the former British colony “strongly deplores the recent cases of criminal intimidation against judges,” the government said in a statement.

“Violators will be brought to justice,” he said.

Only one of the courts had to evacuate some of its staff, media reported. Legal proceedings were not affected, Hong Kong justice said in a statement in which it referred to “emergency incidents”.

West Kowloon court first received a suspicious letter last week, with an envelope later confirmed to contain two grams of caustic soda, a highly corrosive substance, media reported.

The decisions of the world’s financial center courts are being scrutinized around the world amid fears that Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law in response to the protests could erode the rule of law.

Hong Kong authorities deny this.

Reporting by Jessie Pang; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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