Lawyers have issued an ultimatum to the government over the prosecution of a policeman who allegedly assaulted a pedestrian during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
The lawyers of Osman Cheng published an open letter on Thursday, calling for the justice secretary to prosecute retired superintendent Frankly Chu King-wai within two months. Chu was filmed appearing to hit Cheng with a baton on November 26, 2014 in Mong Kok, over 800 days ago.
“Osman is a young man who has never been involved in politics or committed a crime,” the letter reads. “Over the past two years he has chosen to trust the secretary for justice, and has provided information, testimony and evidence to the secretary for justice and the police on innumerable occasions.”
“We are disappointed! We are hurt!”, it added.
The lawyers said that after two months, if Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung still does not prosecute the incident, they would help Cheng seek justice using all legal means possible, including conducting a private prosecution.
“This would allow people… to still believe Hong Kong is a safe city, to still believe that this is a home where we can air our grievances.”
A number of videos taken on November 26, 2014 appear to show that Chu used a baton against pedestrians without prior warning as part of the police operations to disperse crowds that gathered in Mong Kok.
“It looks like I hit [Cheng] with a baton, but actually I only used the baton as an extension of my arm to pat on his back to drive him away,” claimed Chu at the time.
Legislator and barrister Tanya Chan Suk-chong told HKFP that she found the incident strange, because she had not heard any news about Chu’s case, even after she raised questions about it at a Legislative Council session last November.
“Has there been a problem with the justice secretary in prosecuting, or a problem with the police in finding evidence?” Chan asked. “Even for the case of the seven police officers [charged with beating activist Ken Tsang during the Occupy protests], a verdict will be reached next week.
Chan added that a private prosecution – which Cheng and his lawyers have threatened – would not be an easy task. “They would have to prepare and find evidence on their own… and face a lot of mental and financial pressure,” she said.
The justice secretary has the right to intervene and take over a private prosecution. “But if not, they will have to build the case until the very end,” added Chan.