Hong Kong Law & Crime

Activist Howard Lam’s torture claim refuted in court, as doctor says injuries likely self-inflicted

Democratic Party activist Howard Lam is likely to have inflicted his own injuries – faking the abduction he claims to have endured, a medical examiner has told the court.

Lam first claimed in August 2017 that he was drugged, abducted and tortured by suspected mainland agents in Hong Kong. Lam said agents had seized him in Mong Kok, inserted 21 staples into his thighs, before abandoning him on a Sai Kung beach.

Howard Lam

Howard Lam. File Photo: Citizen News.

He was later charged with knowingly making a false report to the police, which comes with a maximum fine of HK$1,000 and six months in jail. A magistrate ruled on Wednesday that Lam has a case to answer, given the evidence put forward by the prosecution.

Senior Forensic Pathologist Lai Sai-chak, of the Department of Health, told the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts that the injuries on Lam’s abdomen had all been inflicted in the same direction, and that almost all of them were parallel to each other. He added that there would have been fewer injuries if they had not been self-inflicted.

Lai said the abdomen is a common spot for self-inflicted injuries owing to the ease with which an individual can reach that area, alongside how visible said injuries are.

He added that the injuries inflicted using a stapler were minor, even though they appeared to be severe. He added that the way in which the wounds had been inflicted was also suspicious.

“If other people had caused the injury, they would have inserted [the staples] without any order,” Lai said.

Abduction claim

Lai said that if Lam had been drugged, abducted, tortured, and abandoned on a beach, he would have had other injuries on his body. He commented on how there were no injuries elsewhere on his body.

“[The evidence] did not fit with Lam’s version that he was abducted,” Lai said.

Lai added that Lam’s claim of having been knocked out for a few seconds after being forced to inhale a substance was medically impossible. Lai’s argument was that it would have taken a few minutes to use chloroform to knock a person out. There was also no such substance found in Lam’s body.

The medical report showed that components of sedatives and soporific drugs had been found in Lam’s blood. Lai said he believed these substances had not been inhaled. He could not verify whether or not Lam had been drugged.

West Kowloon Magistrates Court Law Courts Building

West Kowloon Magistrates Courts. File photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

It was strange that Lam had not sought medical help after his injury, Lai said.

Lam said he would make a decision on Wednesday afternoon as to whether he will take the stand.

Activist Howard Lam's torture claim refuted in court, as doctor says injuries likely self-inflicted