Hong Kong pro-democracy protester guilty of assaulting police

Ken Tsang stands outside Kowloon City Court where he is appearing on assault charges for allegedly splashing liquid on police officers during mass street rallies in 2014.
Ken Tsang stands outside Kowloon City Court where he is appearing on assault charges for allegedly splashing liquid on police officers during mass street rallies in 2014.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (AFP) - A Hong Kong pro-democracy activist who was allegedly beaten by police in an attack captured by television cameras and beamed around the world was found guilty Thursday (May 26) of assaulting and resisting police officers.

Political activist Ken Tsang was accused of splashing liquid on police officers during mass street rallies in 2014 - the same night as he was beaten in an attack. He denied the charges.

Tsang, 40, a member of the pro-democracy Civic Party, was found guilty of one count of assault and two counts of resisting police officers, charges which could carry up to two years in jail.

"The evidence showed that the defendant did indeed pour liquid, and that liquid fell on police officers," magistrate Peter Law told the Kowloon City courthouse.

"Although he did not have a specific target, he clearly knew there were many officers below," he said, adding that it showed "hostility".

Tsang, wearing a dark suit, sat calmly in the courtroom - which was packed with both journalists and his supporters - as the verdict was delivered.

Around 30 supporters, some carrying yellow umbrellas - a symbol of the city's democracy movement - protested outside the courthouse, shouting slogans including "political prosecution is shameful!"

The police who allegedly beat him, who are not the same officers Tsang is accused of assaulting, are to stand trial separately.

After the verdict, Tsang's lawyer Robert Pang argued that the attack his client had been subject to was far more serious than the charges he has been found guilty of.

"His body was covered in wounds... he was tortured. He was punched and kicked in a dark corner as a punishment," Pang said, adding the police had used "disproportionate violence".

Tsang has said police brought assault charges against him to distract from the case against them.

The two incidents took place at the height of mass protests seeking free leadership elections in Hong Kong, and rocked the reputation of the city's police force.

Video footage aired by local television network TVB at the time showed a group of men hauling a handcuffed Tsang to a dark corner in a public park in the early hours of Oct 15, 2014.

One man stood over him and punched him, as three others were seen repeatedly kicking him.

Seven policemen will stand trial for the assault on the activist later this year. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

It took a year for charges to be brought against both Tsang and the officers accused of beating him, a delay that further increased controversy surrounding the cases.

Thousands of protesters blocked major thoroughfares in Hong Kong in 2014, calling for a free vote on the city's chief executive, but the demonstration failed to win any concessions from either Beijing or the city authorities.