A police association has said that the two-year jail sentence handed to seven officers on Friday for assaulting democracy activist Ken Tsang was “unacceptable,” and has pledged to raise funds for them.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Steven Lo Wai-chung told reporters that he reacted to the sentence “with a heavy heart,” and gave his permission to the fundraiser.

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Stephen Lo. File Photo: GovHK.

Seven police officers were found guilty on Tuesday of assaulting Tsang during the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014. On Friday, the District Court sentenced them each to two years’ imprisonment.

In a letter written to members, chairman Joe Chan Cho-kwong of the Junior Police Officers’ Association (JPOA) said that he was “extremely surprised” at the sentence, which he found “unacceptable.”

“We will not rule out any legal means possible in trying to help our seven colleagues seek justice,” he wrote.

He said that he would launch an internal fundraiser within the police force to help the seven policemen overcome any financial difficulties.

‘Heavy heart’

Police chief Lo said he reacted to the jail sentence “with a heavy heart,” and felt “complicated.”

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Defendants entering the District Court on Friday. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“I have heard the views of the police association and my colleagues; they are disappointed and dispirited by the sentence,” he said. “I fully understand.”

Lo added that he has approved the JPOA’s fundraiser, and promised to “fully support the welfare and livelihoods of the seven officers and their family members.”

Responding to a possible appeal by the convicted officers, he called on his colleagues to continue to believe in the rule of law.

Public apology

In response to Lo’s statement, a citizen-led online petition was launched demanding the police chief “bow and apologise” on behalf of the convicted officers to the police force and the Hong Kong public.

The petition criticised Lo’s letter to the force issued on Thursday. In the letter, Lo said he and his colleagues were “all very sad” about the verdict, and that the personnel department would “do its best to provide all possible assistance” to the families of the seven officers.

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A defendant entering the District Court. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“The internal letter may mislead people into thinking that the police force wants to defend convicted officers. We are even more worried that officers will make the same mistake under Lo’s leadership,” the petition letter said.

The petition also called for the resignation of Andy Tsang Wai-hung, the former police chief who led the police force during the Occupy protests. More than 3,800 people signed the petition within a day.

The convicted officers were: chief inspector Wong Cho-shing, 48, senior inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, 29, detective sergeant Pak Wing-bun, 42, and constables Lau Hing-pui, 38, Chan Siu-tan, 31, Kwan Ka-ho, 32, and Wong Wai-ho, 36.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.