Three of the seven police officers found guilty of assaulting pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang have lodged appeals against their convictions and sentences.
A spokesperson for the Secretary for Justice confirmed that it received a notice of their appeals on Monday. The three officers appealing are: police chief inspector Wong Cho-shing, 48, constable Lau Hing-pui, 38, and constable Wong Wai-ho, 36.
At the District Court last Friday, the seven officers were sentenced to two years in jail for kicking and beating Tsang at Tamar Park, Admiralty during the 2014 Occupy protests. The court will decide whether to hear the appeals at a later date.
Apple Daily cited sources as saying that Wong and Lau argued the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were the suspects filmed assaulting Tsang. They said their supervisors also failed to identify them from news footage, thereby challenging the judge’s reliance on the evidence.
The other four convicted officers are expected to file an appeal within the 28-day time limit following the sentencing. They are: senior inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, 29, detective sergeant Pak Wing-bun, 42, and constables Chan Siu-tan, 31, and Kwan Ka-ho, 32.
More than 38,000 police union members and their relatives gathered at a rare rally on Wednesday in solidarity with the convicted officers.
Beijing loyalist Maria Tam Wai-chu, who attended the event, told the crowd that she and her friends have set up a foundation to raise funds for the convicted officers and their families. Any extra funds will go to a police foundation.
She added that “friends from the banking sector” had called her, saying that they would hire the seven officers after their two-year sentence.
The pro-business Liberal Party announced on Wednesday that it had set up a foundation to raise money for the seven. It said it aimed to raise HK$1 million to be evenly distributed among the families.
The police unions are also seeking donations from officers. An officer who donated told Apple Daily: “Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve also made mistakes. Shouldn’t we give people a second chance?”
Police groups and supporters argue that the sentence was too heavy. Legal scholar Johannes Chan has urged them to read the judgment before making the claim.
Target of racial slur
Handing down the sentence, Judge David Dufton criticised the seven officers for abusing their power and damaging Hong Kong’s international image. The sentencing decision also took into account previous rulings in similar incidents.
He said the court needed to “make an example” to ensure that no officers would attempt to commit the offence in the future.
Judge Dufton has since been a target of insults and racial slur from police supporters. In a pro-police rally held last Saturday, a protester dressed up as a judge and other rally-goers pretended to hit him. They argue that people with foreign passports should not be allowed to serve as judges.
Last week, the son of a powerful People’s Liberation Army commander wrote on a Chinese social media platform offering to pay RMB10,000 for someone to assault the judge. He called the judge a “British bastard.”
The Department of Justice told HKFP that it had referred conduct that potentially violated contempt of court to law enforcement agents.
A police spokesperson told HKFP that its crime wing and cybercrime team are investigating relevant complaints. No arrest has been made so far.