The District Court has heard that the seven police officers who allegedly assaulted activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests might have beaten another protester rather than Tsang.

Counsel for the officers made their closing statements on Tuesday. Senior Counsel Lawrence Lok, representing Chief Inspector Wong Cho-shing, argued that the person shown to be assaulted in news footage was not Tsang but another protester who was arrested on the same night.

Ken Tsang. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

In response, Mr Justice David Dufton asked Lok and the prosecution to confirm whether the clothing of the victim in the footage matched with that of Tsang.

Lok and another lawyer, Edward Choy, said that the court should not rely on clothing for identification purposes, as Tsang’s clothes were not unique.

Defence counsel William Lam also made a similar argument, but on the basis that there were at least 200 police officers present on the night of the alleged offence.

Lok said that since even his client’s supervisor was unable to recognise him from the footage, the judge should not rely on video evidence to determine whether those who appeared were Tsang and the officers in question.

‘Unblemished character’

Counsel Edward Tang, representing senior inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, said that even if the person shown to be beaten was Tsang, the prosecution failed to prove that the activist’s injuries were caused by the beating at the park’s corner. He said the injuries could be caused by Tsang’s resistance to arrest earlier on.

Tang added that there was no evidence that his client was present when the beating took place.

Lau was also represented by Senior Counsel Cheng Huan, who said that the future of a “young man of unblemished character” would be ruined if convicted.

He said that the protests were an emotional response of people with different political views, and all that his client did was to maintain law and order and protect those who were lawfully protesting. Therefore, he said, the accusation that the officers had acted with a common purpose was far-fetched and contravened the spirit of law and justice.

Joint enterprise

The prosecution concluded Monday that the seven officers had acted as a joint enterprise – sharing a common purpose and equal criminal liability – as they carried the protester to a corner at Tamar Park, where some used force against him while the others kept a lookout.

Tang responded that the accusation was not backed by evidence, as Tsang said he did not hear the content of the officers’ conversation when being carried to the corner of the park.

Cheng said that even if his client was one of the officers shown in the footage, he was only standing nearby and could not be said to have played a part in the assault.

Ken Tsang and his supporters. File Photo: 政總留守抗爭日記 via Facebook.

‘Opportunistic witness’

Counsel Edward Choy described Tsang as an “opportunistic” witness on the basis that he deserted his friends by running away from the advancing police on the night in question. He likened Tsang’s action to his resignation from the Civic Party when the party decided not to let him run for the Legislative Council election in September.

The lawyer added that Tsang was not cooperative when giving testimony at police stations and refused to answer questions that were unfavourable to him. He concluded that Tsang was an opportunistic and unreliable witness.

Last month, Mr Justice Dufton accepted evidence concerning Tsang’s identification of the suspects. The judge said on Tuesday that he planned to hand down a verdict on January 6 next year.

The seven defendants are chief inspector Wong Cho-shing, senior inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, detective sergeant Pak Wing-bun, and constables Lau Hing-pui, Chan Siu-tan, Kwan Ka-ho, and Wong Wai-ho. Each was charged with causing grievous bodily harm to Tsang with intent, with Chan being charged with an extra count of common assault. All have pleaded not guilty.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.