Hong Kong police deploy bomb squad to a court

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Hong Kong police evacuated 32 people from a city court on Tuesday and deployed explosive 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 staff at the West Kowloon Court, where the evacuation took place, but did not immediately give further details. The city government said it deplored intimidation of judges.

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

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

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

“Offenders will be brought to justice,” it said.

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

West Kowloon Court first got a suspicious letter last week, with an envelope later confirmed to have contained two grams of caustic soda, a highly corrosive substance, media reported.

Decisions in the global financial hub’s courts are scrutinized around the world amid fears that Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law in response to the protests is eroding the rule of law.

Hong Kong authorities deny that.

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