At least five defendants facing prosecution in relation to last February’s Mong Kok clashes have said they were assaulted or threatened by police during interrogation.

Ten defendants appeared before District Court Judge Kwok Wai-kin on Thursday. They were charged with rioting, criminal damage or assault in relation to the disorder in the early hours of February 9 last year.

Police at the Mong Kok protest. File Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

At least five of them told the court that they intended to reject statements they gave during police questioning, on the basis that they were threatened or forced to say they took part in the protest.

Defendant Yep Chi-fung, 18, claimed that four police officers took him to a room in a police station and stripped him naked.

He said he was told by the officers “you have the guts to take action but no guts to admit it,” as they punched him in his stomach and kicked his thighs when he denied being involved in the clashes, Apple Daily reported.

He said he was eventually allowed to put on his clothes after he agreed to cooperate.

Defendant Lam Wing-wong, 22, said a police officer told him: “It is no big deal. Just admit it. If you are cooperative, you can pass some of the responsibility onto Yep.”

Another defendant Li Cheuk-hin, 20, said he was threatened during questioning. According to Li, an officer said in Cantonese: “You are definitely going to feel stuffed tonight.” Li’s lawyer said the phrase could be interpreted as “You are definitely going to be beaten up tonight.”

Police at the Mong Kok protest. File Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

Li said he was then beaten by police and forced to admit to “throwing bricks for fun.”

‘Pre-write statement’

He also claimed he was not told what charges he would face before being interviewed, HK01 reported. An officer allegedly told Li: “Don’t waste my time and make me get off work late,” and said to a colleague: “Pre-write a statement for him. Say [Li] was helping others pick up bricks. You will only be given probation at the most.”

Defendant Tang King-chung, 29, gave a similar account. He said he was scared and tired while in police custody, and was not informed of his charges. He said he was punched in the arm and was told by an officer: “Don’t dawdle and make me get off work late. Sign [the statement] quickly.”

He said that when he denied having taken part in the protest, an officer said: “Have you not been beaten enough? If you give a good statement, you will at most get probation for throwing bricks.”

An officer allegedly wrote in the statement that Tang took part in the protest, even though Tang insisted that he had not. When Tang protested, he said an officer told him: “Do you want to stay here and not be released on bail?” Tang said he felt compelled to stay silent.

Defendant Chung Chi-wah, 30, said his videotaped interrogation was conducted while he was under threat. He said an officer told him: “You were photographed throwing bricks. Don’t deny it.”

Mong Kok protest. Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

The trial, beginning Thursday, is expected to last 30 days.

On Thursday morning, defendant Mo Jia-tao, 18, pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer. He denied three other charges of rioting and a charge of criminal damage.

Another defendant Ng Ting-kai, 25, pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of rioting. He denied an assault charge.

The remaining eight defendants denied their charges.

The ten defendants are: Mo Jia-tao, 18; Chung Chi-wah, 30; Anthony Ho Kam-sum, 37; Fok Ting-ho, 24; Chan Wo-cheung, 71; Tang King-chung, 29; Li Cheuk-hin, 20; Lam Wing-wong, 22; Yep Chi-fung, 18; and Ng Ting-kai, 25.

An eleventh defendant, Lee Sin-yi, 18, is being sought by the authorities after failing to appear in court.

Ellie Ng

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