Seven cops guilty of assault

Top News | Phoebe Ng 15 Feb 2017

Seven police officers were found guilty yesterday of assaulting Occupy Central protester Ken Tsang Kin-chiu. But they were cleared of the more serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

The seven were remanded in custody until sentencing on Friday.

District Court judge David Dufton ruled that the injuries to Tsang, although extensive, did not constitute grievous bodily harm. But he was satisfied they amounted to actual bodily harm.

"The prosecution have proved all the elements of the offense of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against each defendant beyond reasonable doubt," he said.

Anyone found guilty of causing actual bodily harm is liable to three years' imprisonment, while those convicted of common assault face up to one year's imprisonment.

The original charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The defendants did not give evidence or call any witnesses.

Tsang, part of a group of pro- democracy protesters, was involved in a clash with police outside government headquarters during the Occupy Central movement in 2014.

In the early hours of October 15, police carried Tsang, who was handcuffed, to a dark corner of the nearby Tamar Park and dumped him on the ground. Detective sergeant Pak Wing-bun, 42, then began "stabbing, stamping and kicking" him.

Officers Lau Hing-pui, 38, Chan Siu-tan, 31, Kwan Ka-ho, 32, and Wong Wai-ho, 36, also joined in and kicked Tsang.

The assault was captured on footage by TVB, Apple Daily, ATV and Now TV as well as a police video team.

Despite an objection from the defense on submitting footage from news media as evidence, the court ruled that all audiovisual evidence was authentic and accurately depicted events.

The judge agreed with the inference drawn that the protester was "carried to the corner to be assaulted."

Although chief inspector Wong Cho-shing, 48, and senior inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, 29, did not take part in the assault, they were also convicted.

Judge Dufton believed the duo "did encourage and support [the] unlawful violence" by watching their colleagues assault the activist.

"Every police officer has a duty to prevent the commission of a crime, even by fellow police officers," he said. "[Their] failure to intervene is evidence of encouragement to carry out the assault."

Chan was convicted of an extra count of common assault for slapping Tsang on the face twice in a room in Central Police Station.

Tsang sustained injuries to the left side of his neck, left shoulder and clavicle, left flank and right flank, as well as bruises on his chest and back.

Following yesterday's verdicts, Junior Police Officers' Association chairman Joe Chan Cho-kwong said in a statement: "I understand that some members [of the association] would find the judgment biased, unfair and unjust, and that the defendants were convicted despite of doubts.

"But Hong Kong's judicial system is the cornerstone of a just society and should not waver. As law enforcer, the police have to defend Hong Kong's judicial system."

Tsang, a former Civic Party member, said he would not comment on the case until after the sentencing on Friday.

The pro-democracy activist was jailed for five weeks in May last year after being found guilty in a separate trial at Kowloon City Court of one count of assaulting police and two of resisting police.

He is on bail and awaiting appeal against the charges.

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