Hong Kong protester 'beaten by police' wins first step in legal fight

Political activist Ken Tsang talks to the media outside the high court of justice in Hong Kong on April 17, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (AFP) - A Hong Kong pro-democracy protester allegedly assaulted by police - in a beating captured on video - has been given the green light to challenge a decision not to identify his assailants.

It is nine months since the attack on Civic Party activist Ken Tsang, footage of which was beamed around the world at the height of mass protests for free leadership elections in Hong Kong.

Since then little progress has been made in the case and the authorities have withheld the identities of the attackers, believed to be plainclothes policemen.

Seven officers were arrested in November and suspended from duty over the attack - but no charges have been laid and they have not been officially named.

Judge Thomas Au on Monday allowed Tsang to go ahead with a legal challenge against the police, granting permission for a judicial review over the identification of his attackers.

Tsang and his legal team argue that if the names are revealed to them they can pursue the case privately, in the event that the public case fails.

In a judgement handed down to the High Court by Au, he said that it was "reasonably arguable as to whether there is legal basis for the court to order the (police) Commissioner to reveal identities of the relevant officers," paving the way for the judicial review to go ahead.

But Tsang said he was still angered by his treatment and called on the authorities to prosecute those involved.

"It's been nine months. What really should have happened now is them being criminally prosecuted. Someone has broken the law. It's so unfair and unreasonable," he told AFP, describing the process as "ridiculous".

"The authorities should simply reveal the names, then there would be no need for a judicial review," he added.

Video footage aired by local television network TVB showed a group of men hauling a handcuffed Tsang to a dark corner in a protest-hit public park in the early hours of October 15 last year.

One stands over him and punches him, as three others are seen repeatedly kicking him, in a case that has rocked the reputation of the normally respected police force.

Au asked that both sides make arrangements within the next two weeks for the judicial review to take place.

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