In Summary
  • Although the precise chain of events leading to 22-year-old Alex Chow's fall are unclear and disputed, his death is the first student fatality during five months of demonstrations.
  • Online forums used by the largely anonymous and leaderless protest movement also quickly filled up with the calls for vigils to mourn Chow's death.
  • Superintendent Ewing Wu and a police spokeswoman rejected accusations that officers delayed paramedics getting to the scene.

HONG KONG,

A Hong Kong student who sustained head injuries when he fell during clashes with police died on Friday, triggering a fresh wave of outrage from the pro-democracy movement and fears of more violent unrest.

Although the precise chain of events leading to 22-year-old Alex Chow's fall are unclear and disputed, his death is the first student fatality during five months of demonstrations.

Protesters, who have made alleged police brutality one of their movement's rallying cries, responded to Chow's death with calls for Friday night vigils across Hong Kong and rallies over the weekend.

"Today we mourn the loss of a freedom fighter in Hong Kong," Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy campaigner, said on Twitter.

"We will not leave anyone behind - what we start together, we finish together. Given the losses suffered by Hong Kong society in the past month, the government must pay the price."

"TICKING BOMB"

Online forums used by the largely anonymous and leaderless protest movement also quickly filled up with the calls for vigils to mourn Chow's death.

"The atmosphere in Hong Kong is like a ticking bomb," Lo Kin-hei, a local pro-democracy councillor and activist, wrote on Twitter. "HKers don't trust the police will give us the truth."

Police have repeatedly denied any allegations of wrongdoing in relation to Chow's death.

The lead officer in the case, Superintendent Ewing Wu, again insisted on Friday that police were not at fault.

"As for the allegations that police chased the deceased or that we pushed him and caused him to fall, the police hereby make a solemn statement again that nothing of the kind happened," Wu told reporters.

TEAR GAS

Chow was taken to hospital early on Monday morning following clashes between police and protesters in the middle-class district of Tseung Kwan O.

He was certified dead by the hospital on Friday morning after failing to emerge from a coma.

He had been found lying unconscious in a pool of blood inside a multi-storey car park that police had fired tear gas towards.

Protesters had been hurling objects from the building, in the type of confrontation that has become routine in late-night rallies over recent months.

Police acknowledged that tear gas had been used on Sunday night to disperse protesters near the car park where Chow fell.

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