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Statement on hostage-taking incident report

     Following is the statement by a Government spokesman today (September 20) on the First Report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee of the Philippines on the hostage-taking incident in Manila:

     The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government received from the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR today a copy of the First Report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee of the Philippines on the hostage-taking incident in Manila. The SAR Government needs time to scrutinise the lengthy document. Our initial response to the report is as follows:

1.  First, the Investigation and Review Committee has not been evasive in confronting the critical questions. This positive attitude deserves to be acknowledged.

2.  Second, the Committee has demonstrated its sincere efforts in working against time and relative physical constraints in completing its first report.

3.  Third, the report gives a detailed account of the incident and contains severe criticisms of the key responsible Philippine officials for their lapses of judgment and the way they handled the matter. It also recommends that the relevant officials be held responsible and actions be taken against them accordingly. While we are not yet in a position to comment on the relevant conclusions, we acknowledge that the Committee has been serious in handling the matter.

4.  Fourth, the report admits that the causes of death of the eight victims and the causes of injury of the seven others need to be further ascertained. Therefore, final conclusions have yet to be drawn. We expect the Philippine authorities to step up their efforts to complete the work as soon as possible. We and the Philippine authorities have been cooperating well in this regard. To this end, we will continue to work closely with the Philippine authorities to facilitate communication between the two sides for further investigation and follow-up forensic and ballistic examinations.

5.  Fifth, the Coroner's Court of the HKSAR has earlier instructed the Police to assist in the investigation. Our police investigation will be vigorous. We will submit the Philippine authorities' first report and other related investigation materials to the Coroner's Court for consideration. Upon receiving the relevant information and the independent investigation report to be compiled by the Hong Kong police, the Coroner will decide whether to hold a hearing. We firmly believe that the Coroner's Court will make a fair and professional judgment. It will be inappropriate for us to comment on the causes of death because of the pertaining judiciary proceedings.

     Lastly, we want to reiterate that the incident is a heart-wrenching tragedy. As shown by the Philippine investigation report, it could have been avoided. We sincerely hope that the Philippine authorities could continue with their efforts in dealing with the aftermath properly. This includes taking action against the negligent officers, following up with the investigation, and dealing with the matter in a fair manner so that the call for justice can be answered.

Ends/Monday, September 20, 2010
Issued at HKT 22:33


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