On the night of August 31, the police were carrying out an operation at Prince Edward subway station. Whether anybody died in Prince Edward Station on August 31 is a question on everyone’s mind.
The police, fire department and MTR have not given a full account of what happened in the station that night, including disclosing the CCTV footage from the station.
To seek the truth, FactWire spoke with 47 people who were arrested in the station to try to reconstruct the situation that night. After three months of investigations, we could not conclude that anybody had died. We will share our findings at this stage for the sake of public interest.
On the night of August 31, the police were carrying out an operation at Prince Edward subway station. Police officers drove reporters away and stopped paramedics from entering the station. Records which were later shown by the Fire Services Department revealed that the number of injured people fell from 10 to seven.
The discrepancy in the injuries and the closure of the subway station for more than 30 hours afterward have caused many to suspect that police had beaten people to death.
The police said they arrested 52 people at Prince Edward Station that night. FactWire interviewed 47 of them and reconstructed the situation at the station based on their accounts.
Our investigation revealed that aside from the arrestees who were taken to Lai Chi Kok by a special train, there were also arrested people taken away by police vans directly from Prince Edward station.
When responding to FactWire, police figures of those who were injured and arrested at Prince Edward Station on August 31 have not been coherent.
Of the arrests made by the police that night, there were 44 men and 8 women. Of this total, five men and two women were injured and sent to hospital.
According to online videos, at around 10:45 pm on August 31, there was a dispute on a Kwun Tong line train. Trains on L3 stopped and a message broadcast on loudspeakers told passengers to leave the train as the MTR staff had reported the incident to the police.
Riot police and Special Tactical Squad officers arrived at L3 shortly, pressed passengers onto the platform and used pepper spray. The scene was chaotic.
The highest number of arrests took place on L3. Special Tactical Squad officers rushed to L3 to chase down citizens on the stairs next to an elevator and rushed into the compartment of a Tsuen Wan line train. Several people who sustained bloody head wounds boarded a train leaving Prince Edward station and arrived at Yau Ma Tei station before being sent to the hospital.
Special Tactical Squad officers arrested two men outside carriages 7 and 8 on the Kwun Tong line platform and another four outside carriages 2, 3 and 5 on the Tsuen Wan line platform towards Central.
Four arrestees sat down near carriage 5 of the Tsuen Wan line platform. The other two were brought to the end of the same platform.
At the same time, another group of Special Tactical Squad officers ran to one end of the Tsuen Wan line platform and arrested at least 35 people on an escalator leading to the concourse. Live video feeds from TVB and SocRec showed officers pepper-spraying people and using batons to beat them on the escalator. The people were bunched together. SocRec’s video also showed that two men and a woman staying at the end of the escalator near the wall were instructed by officers to leave.
Police officers subdued three men near the escalator. One of them tried to escape and ran up the escalator but was later arrested. The other two were brought to the end of the Tsuen Wan line platform and sat down near a metal gate, while people on the escalator were handcuffed, brought to the end of the same platform and asked to squat down in lines.
TVB footage also showed police intercepting a man and a woman on L3 at 11:05 pm. It is unclear whether or not they were arrested.
At 11:10 pm, police told reporters to leave the L3 platform. At 11:45 pm, police drove reporters out of the station. The following analysis is based on the accounts of the 47 arrestees, who were also witnesses.
The arrested people on L3 platform were searched near carriage gate 8 of the Kwun Tong line platform. They were then led to carriage gate 7 where they sat in three lines facing the wall.
Four injured people, including men who had head injuries and panic attacks, were placed between two columns at the end of the Tsuen Wan line platform. Two female arrestees said they had difficulty breathing. After being tended to by firefighters, and body searched by a police officer, both were led to sit down near carriage gate 8 of the Kwun Tong line platform. After being taken care of by firefighters, each of them was followed up by two to three paramedics. Five of them were placed on stretchers while the other one was in a wheelchair.
At around 12:17 am September 1, a female superintendent announced that the arrested near carriage gate 7 and injured people would be arrested for unlawful assembly.
After the announcement was made, the people were brought to L2 and boarded the Tsuen Wan Line train for Lai Chi Kok. More than 30 people were asked to sit face-to-face in at least five rows. They were guarded by multiple police officers. The four men who sat down near carriage gate 5 of the Tsuen Wan line platform on L3, were also brought to the special train to Lai Chi Kok.
As for the injured people, they were accompanied by paramedics and lined up for the elevator. At least two wounded said paramedics were checking their situation and making records. An injured person said the paramedics mistakenly thought they could bring the injured directly to the hospital. They had brought the injured to the concourse where MTR staff asked if they needed to open the gates for them.
The six injured arrested people, accompanied by paramedics, boarded the train to Lai Chi Kok. One of them saw an additional injured male in a wheelchair boarding the train.
FactWire couldn’t identify this man, but an injured person confirmed that he was sent to hospital on the same ambulance with the unidentified man. According to the CCTV screenshots released by the MTR, this unidentified man also appeared at Lai Chi Kok station. FSD records show that he was sent to Princess Margaret Hospital.
According to information provided by the MTR, the special train departed Prince Edward at 01:23 am and arrived at Lai Chi Kok at 01:28 am.
Most of the people who arrived at Lai Chi Kok station left from Exit A. They were taken to Kwai Chung police station in three police vans. Seven injured people left from Exit B2 by lift and were picked up by six ambulances.
Four were taken to Princess Margaret Hospital and three to Caritas Medical Centre for treatment.
On the concourse, at least seven men were arrested in different places from 10:55 pm to 11:10 pm. They left the station from Exit C2 and were via a police van to Kwai Chung Police Station.
It can be confirmed that 52 people were arrested on L3 and at the concourse, which is in line with police figures.
But police intercepted at least five people inside and outside of the concourse turnstiles. One of them was subdued by police. It is not known if they were later arrested.
FactWire had been asking the police how many arrested people had been brought away directly from Prince Edward station since October. The police had failed to answer the question by this story’s deadline.
Although videos, photos from different media, along with testimonies from interviewees could help reconstruct most of the people’s location and movement at the station, there are still gaps in what happened that night.
At around 11:45 pm, after police drove reporters out of the Prince Edward station, it is not known what happened. At around 12:17 am on September 1, when some of the arrestees boarded the special train at L2, there were only one or two MTR staff aside from police officers.
As most of those arrested were requested to face the wall, not many people knew exactly what happened.
— Differing police figures —
At about 11:30 pm, police arrested one man on the street near Prince Edward Station.
This person was not included in the total 63 arrests made by police in an earlier announcement which covers Prince Edward, Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei. Police only brought up this arrest when answering FactWire queries.
A man was also arrested at Mong Kok Station at about 10:40 pm at Exit B. That man asked to go to the hospital.
In response to FactWire queries, the Fire Services Department said they received reports of injuries at Mong Kok Station at 12:30 am and deployed one ambulance which arrived at the scene at 01:06 am. In the end, the three paramedics sent the injured to hospital at 02:53 am.
According to the police, seven were injured among the people who were arrested in Prince Edward station and Mong Kok station. They were conscious and were sent to Princess Margaret Hospital and Caritas Medical Center.
However, the police failed to mention to the public that people who were arrested in Mong Kok were also injured and were sent to Kwong Wah Hospital.
With regard to the arrests of the police at Prince Edward, Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei stations on August 31, the Police have made multiple differing statements and the details of those statements are listed in the table below.
According to the Fire Services Department and CCTV screenshots released by the MTR, a woman reported that she felt unwell at Prince Edward Station that night.
At 11:20 pm, firefighters entered the station. After four minutes they contacted the woman.
At 11:31 pm, the woman left the station. As the woman had signed a form expressing that she did not need to be hospitalized, she was not included in the injury list.
FactWire has sent multiple queries to the MTR Corporation about whether there were other trains aside from the special Lai Chi Kok-bound train between 12:00 am to 06:00 am on September 1, but the MTR did not reply by our deadline.
In order to reconstruct the August 31 Prince Edward incident, FactWire studied images and 17 videos — about 17 hours in total — and conducted a headcount of arrested people in different parts of the station based on their appearance and clothing.
FactWire successfully contacted the 47 arrested interviewees through social media, lawyers and waiting for them outside a police station.
FactWire verified their identification based on the time, location, appearance and actions they described and the collected footage.
Afterward, we summarized all the accounts from the interviewees, including their locations at Prince Edward station, their movements, the timings of their experiences and recreated the incident with accounts that were agreed by at least half of the interviewees.
In order to protect the interviewees, some information and some of their accounts of what happened that night could not be disclosed.