Hong Kong Law & Crime

Evidence against democrat Howard Lam’s kidnap claim ‘clear as crystal ball,’ court hears

Democratic Party activist Howard Lam had never been abducted and was just “putting on a show,” prosecutors said on the final day of his trial on Monday.

In August 2017, Lam claimed that he had been drugged, abducted and tortured by suspected mainland agents in Hong Kong. Lam said the men seized him in Mongkok, inserted 21 staples into his legs, before abandoning him on a Sai Kung beach.

howard lam

Howard Lam. File photo: inmediahk.net.

Less than a week later, Lam was arrested and detained by police for allegedly providing false information. He was charged with knowingly making a false report to the police.

In its closing statement at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court, the prosecution argued that the police had successfully pieced together closed-circuit television footage to disprove Lam’s version of events.

Lam has pleaded not guilty, and faces a maximum fine of HK$1,000 and six months behind bars.

‘Self-defeating’ 

Prosecutors told the court that police had spent substantial time and manpower to review CCTV clips, and that Lam’s testimony was “self-defeating”.

The 42-year-old claimed to return home immediately after his ordeal, but the prosecution said there was footage showing him drinking a beverage outside his home for 20 minutes. “Does that look like what a crime victim would do?” the prosecution lawyer asked.

The prosecution also said that the combined CCTV footage was “clear as a crystal ball” and allowed the police to retrace Lam’s steps in Mong Kok on the day of his alleged abduction. Lam had safely boarded a minibus headed for Sai Kung, they said.

West Kowloon Law Courts Building

West Kowloon Law Courts Building. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

However, Lam’s defence lawyer argued that the prosecutors did not prove Lam lied beyond reasonable doubt, and that there was an eight-metre gap not covered by CCTV footage.

The medical evidence continued to be a point of dispute. Earlier in the trial, both sides summoned their expert witnesses who gave competing evidence: Senior Forensic Pathologist Lai Sai-chak said the wounds were likely self-inflicted, but British specialist Jason Payne-James said the injuries were “consistent” with Lam’s torture claims.

The defence argued that the medical examination was delayed by 15 hours and that some symptoms may no longer have been visible.

The court will hand down its judgment on March 15.

Evidence against democrat Howard Lam's kidnap claim 'clear as crystal ball,' court hears