Seven HK cops found guilty of attacking protester

Some of the police officers - (from far left) Chief Inspector Wong Cho Sing, Constables Chan Siu Tan and Kwan Ka Ho, Sergeant Pak Wing Bun and Senior Inspector Lau Cheuk Ngai - on their way to court yesterday, where they were convicted of assaulting
Some of the police officers - (from far left) Chief Inspector Wong Cho Sing, Constables Chan Siu Tan and Kwan Ka Ho, Sergeant Pak Wing Bun and Senior Inspector Lau Cheuk Ngai - on their way to court yesterday, where they were convicted of assaulting a pro-democracy protester in 2014.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • Seven Hong Kong police officers have been found guilty of assaulting a protester during pro-democracy rallies in 2014, in an attack that was captured on film and beamed around the world.

All seven were yesterday found guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm to Civic Party activist Ken Tsang, but were found not guilty of a more serious charge of grievous bodily harm with intent.

Video footage of the attack, filmed by a local network near the city's government headquarters, shocked residents and dented their faith in the usually trusted police force.

It showed a group of men hauling a handcuffed Tsang to a dark corner in a public park, where he was beaten. One man stood over him inflicting blows while three others were seen repeatedly kicking him.

Police had been criticised for their sometimes heavy-handed treatment of protesters during the 79 days of rallies and street blockades that brought parts of the city to a standstill.

The demonstrators were seeking fully free elections for Hong Kong's future leaders. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested over the course of the 2014 protests.

Hong Kong's district court found that one officer had stamped on 41-year-old Tsang and that four other officers kicked him. Two other officers did not participate but watched.

"Every police officer has a duty to prevent the commission of a crime, even by fellow police officers," judge David Dufton said in a press summary of the verdict.

The press statement added that Tsang suffered injuries to his face, neck and body during the assault. "The court was not, however, satisfied these injuries amounted to grievous bodily harm but was satisfied they amounted to actual bodily harm," the statement said.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of three years.

One of the officers who kicked Tsang was also found guilty of common assault for slapping him in the face twice after he was taken to a police station.

Tsang, a social worker, was himself found guilty last year of assaulting and resisting officers on the same night, when he splashed an unspecified liquid on police.

He was given a five-week sentence and has said he will appeal.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'Seven HK cops found guilty of attacking protester'. Print Edition | Subscribe