Prosecutors have withdrawn all charges against an elderly man who was accused of obstructing a Sha Tin street by providing free bike repairs.
During a court hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors applied to withdraw the charges brought against 65-year-old Suen Tak-fui. However, they did not elaborate on the reasons behind the decision. Suen’s tools were also returned to him.
The magistrate, Chan Chi-kim, said he was astonished that officers confiscated and detained Suen’s tools. He said law enforcement officials should normally only seize the objects if the accused causes a major obstruction.
The magistrate also questioned prosecutors as to whether Suen was a repeat offender, to which they replied, “no.” He then implored law enforcement officials to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
Suen smiled outside the magistrate building and thanked the media for bringing his story to the public’s attention. He even performed handstand in front of cameras to celebrate the outcome.
He added he would have to consider whether to continue providing free bike repair services on the streets.
In a telephone interview with HKFP, Martin Turner, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, said the organisation was pleased that they were able to assist such as gathering “testimonies from people who received the free service from Mr Suen, and also the supporting letters from former local district councillors.”
Suen was arrested by officers of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on June 28 for obstruction and unlicensed hawking activities. The court first heard the case on July 15, but the hearing was postponed to Wednesday, July 29 after prosecutors requested more time to consider the handling of the case.
Suen was reported to have offered free bicycle repairs every morning on Sha Kok Street, and would only charge bicycle owners for replacement parts. Officials arrested him after they saw him receiving money from bicycle owners, and confiscated his tools at the scene.
He earlier said he would plead guilty in court but hoped that the magistrate would not impose a heavy fine on him. He could have faced a maximum fine of $5,000 and three months’ imprisonment for obstructing public space.