Secretary for Security Lai Tung-Kwok has said that it is understandable that some police officers are unable to remember the details of arrests made during last year’s pro-democracy Occupy protests.

At a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday, lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung said that some arrested protesters were able to prove their innocence using footage found online. Doubts persisted as to whether officers made dishonest testimonies in court, Leung added, suggesting that protesters were under unnecessary prosecution.

Leung also said that local media had reported at least 20 cases in which judges criticised police officers for twisting facts, making poor excuses, and providing untrustworthy testimony.

Photo: HKFP.

In response, Lai said that he did not agree with the accusations.

“During the 79-days illegal Occupy movement, police officers were on duty for long periods of time, in a constantly chaotic environment. Objectively, it is understandable that certain police officers cannot accurately remember certain details of what happened,” Lai told the Council.

Lai said that judges would only convict a defendant of the charges when it was beyond unreasonable doubt, that it did not mean there were problems in either the testimonies of certain witnesses or in the process of arrest and prosecution.

The Secretary added that police officers were under oath when they testified, and that if judges believed their testimonies were not trustworthy they could request the prosecution or the Department of Justice to follow up and refer them to the Complaints Against Police Office.

Lai told the Council that 955 people were arrested during the Occupy protests, and 48 were arrested thereafter. Up to the end of November, proceedings against 177 of these had been completed; 74 had been convicted, and 40 had accepted bind over orders.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.