The Hong Kong police force has rejected its watchdog’s ruling that a retiring superintendent committed assault on a pedestrian during last year’s Occupy protests, and asked the watchdog to re-vote on the case.
The Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), which reportedly voted 12:6 in favour of substantiating the case of assault by superintendent Chu King-wai, received a reply from the Complaints Against Police Officers department that it did not accept the ruling.
Chu was filmed hitting pedestrians in Mong Kok in November last year.
The police have amended Chu’s assault allegation from “substantiated” to “not fully substantiated”, meaning that there is insufficient evidence to support the claim, according to local media.
The police also suggested that Chu be charged with an unreported allegation of “unnecessary use of authority” instead of assault.
In response to the police’s request, the IPCC secretariat has reportedly asked members to “express [their] view” through email – hence making the vote no longer secret – on the police’s rejection of the IPCC’s ruling by Wednesday at the latest.
Barrister and IPCC member Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok, also a member of the pro-Beijing DAB and China’s top political advisory body, told Ming Pao that he had asked the secretariat to hold a re-vote on the case.
But Edwin Cheng Sing-lung, chairman of the IPCC publicity committee, said in a Commercial Radio programme on Monday that the council members had watched the related videos over 100 times, and have a “clear understanding of what the officer was doing”.
Unless there is new evidence, the IPCC will not change its ruling, said Cheng. He expressed hope that Hong Kongers will “trust the independence of the IPCC”.
If the IPCC and police cannot agree on a ruling, the council needs to submit a report to the chief executive who will make a final decision on the case.
Eric Cheung Tat-ming, former IPCC member and HKU law lecturer, said in an RTHK programme on Monday that the police’s rejection of the IPCC’s vote would have a negative impact on the police force’s image.
Osman Cheng, the man who was filmed being hit by Chu, told Apple Daily that he was disappointed at the police’s decision to reject the IPCC’s ruling. He said that he would consider private prosecution or report to the police if the IPCC’s decision was overturned.
The purpose of the IPCC would be “virtually nonexistent” if police had the final say over the IPCC’s ruling, said Cheng.
Activists including barrister Tanya Chan protested at the IPCC office on Monday morning opposing a re-vote on Chu’s case. They warned that a re-vote would harm the council’s credibility.
Osman Cheng and around 20 activists also gathered at the Wanchai Police Headquarters last Thursday to demand the prosecution of Chu.
In the IPCC’s work report from April 2013 to March 2014, among the 1,318 cases that required full investigation, only 86 cases, or 6.5 percent, were substantiated. Of 1,056 allegations of assaults received in 2011–14, none were substantiated by the IPCC.
In March, the IPCC announced that they had received more than 2,427 complaints related to Occupy, including 709 cases of alleged assault by police. However, only 159 cases required investigation, as many were reported from media coverage rather than first-hand experience.