[Updated: Friday, November 16, 2018 - 4:30pm]
A fugitive who has been on the run from Hong Kong police since 2015 escaped again on Friday morning through the ceiling of a hospital toilet – less than 48 hours after being recaptured.
The man, 34-year-old Leon Li, was taken into custody at Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday when he tried to re-enter the city on a Dominican Republic passport, one of several he reportedly holds.
Originally arrested three years ago and charged with possession of a fake ID card, Li, who also has a Chinese passport, was bailed and left Hong Kong. He was being held at Central police station before his latest escape, which happened after he told police he had Aids and needed to go to hospital.
“Somehow Li flew back to Hong Kong with a passport issued by the Dominican Republic,” a senior police insider said.
A police spokesman said the strongly built fugitive, who is described as 5ft 5in tall and was last seen wearing blue and white checked hospital scrubs, and white sport shoes, complained of feeling sick. He was taken to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam on Thursday night, and officers realised he was missing after they took him to the toilet the following morning.
“The suspect escaped at 8.30am,” the spokesman said. “Police had immediately mounted a manhunt nearby. We are actively searching for the man.”
Police have set up roadblocks and are searching for him in the area surrounding the University of Hong Kong, which is nearby.
According to the force, Li was charged on June 9, 2015 with possessing a forged Hong Kong ID card, a day after being arrested. He was brought to Eastern Magistrates court two weeks later, and was released on bail on June 23. “While on bail, the suspect did not report to the court and therefore was listed as a wanted person,” the spokesman said.
Members of the public have been urged to contact investigators on 9855 1789, or 999, if they have any information on the man’s whereabouts.
At Queen Mary Hospital, officers have been examining the washroom Li escaped from. Four officers at the emergency ward told the Post they were still trying to figure out how he had managed to escape.
“The police are allocated to different departments of the hospital,” an officer said. “We are investigating how the man escaped from the hospital.”
HKU sent an email to warn students and staff about the escaped suspect, and have ask them to report anyone they see acting suspiciously. Dr Steven Cannon, the executive vice-president of the university, wrote: “Staff and students may be aware that the police are searching for a man who escaped from their custody at Queen Mary Hospital early this morning. “Members of the university are asked to exercise vigilance and report anyone acting suspiciously to university security or the police.”
It is business as usual in the rest of the hospital, meanwhile, with patients and visitors seemingly unaware of the drama unfolding around them.
It is not the first time police have had to recapture prisoners after they have escaped from custody in a Hong Kong hospital. In June 2015, an 18-year-old facing trial over drug trafficking, and an alleged acid attack on a family of three, managed to unshackle himself and escape from two police officers at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He was recaptured 10 hours later.
That same month, a 14-year-old boy who had been arrested for breaching a curfew order escaped at Tuen Mun Hospital. He was rearrested in the hospital that day.