The District Court convicted seven police officers on Tuesday for assaulting activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
All were found not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but guilty of the lesser charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The seven defendants were police chief inspector Wong Cho-shing, 48, senior inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, 29, detective sergeant Pak Wing-bun, 42, and constables Lau Hing-pui, 38, Chan Siu-tan, 31, Kwan Ka-ho, 32, and Wong Wai-ho, 36.
The convicted officers face a maximum of three years in prison.
Chan was convicted of an additional charge of common assault for slapping Tsang twice on his face inside the Central Police Station. The offence carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
The defendants all wore the same outfit – blue blazers and white shirts with black and red ties. Tsang was not present at the verdict.
‘Duty to prevent crime’
Judge David Dufton held that Tsang was the person seen assaulted in video footage and that the officers were the ones filmed carrying Tsang to a corner in Tamar Park, where they were seen beating and kicking Tsang.
The judge also noted that senior officers Wong Cho-shing and Lau Cheuk-ngai did not take part in the assault but watched what happened.
“Every police officer has a duty to intervene to prevent the commission of a crime, even by fellow police officers,” Judge Dufton said in the judgment.
But the judge held that the injuries sustained by Tsang did not amount to grievous bodily harm. Instead, he ruled that the attack amounted to assault of occasioning actual bodily harm.
Supporters of the seven officers clapped upon learning that the officers were not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but they were told to stop by security and the judge. The supporters fell silent after the judge pronounced the officers guilty of the less serious charge.
The high-profile attack on the pro-democracy activist took place near the government headquarters in Tamar Park, Admiralty on October 1, 2014. The trial began last June, almost two years after the incident occurred.
During the trial, the defendants chose not to give evidence or call any witnesses on their behalf.
Counsel for some of the officers argued that the person shown being assaulted in news footage was not Tsang but another protester who was arrested on the same night.
Counsel Edward Tang, representing senior inspector Lau, argued that even if the person shown to be beaten was Tsang, the activist’s injuries may have been caused by his own resistance to arrest before being taken away to a corner of the park.
Another lawyer Edward Choy described Tsang as an “opportunistic” witness on the basis that he deserted his friends by running away from the advancing police on the night in question.
He compared Tsang’s actions to his resignation from the Civic Party when the party decided not to let him run for the Legislative Council election last September. The lawyer concluded that Tsang was an opportunistic and unreliable witness.
Choy also accused Tsang of using the assault case to gain fame in order to build a career in politics. Tsang denied the allegation.
The seven officers were remanded in custody. Judge Dufton will hand down the sentence at a later date.