The Court of Appeal approved Wednesday the bail requests of three police officers convicted of assaulting activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.

Senior police inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, 29, and constables Lau Hing-pui, 38, and Wong Wai-ho, 36, requested bail earlier pending an appeal against their convictions.

One of the convicted officers. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

The officers and their four colleagues were sentenced to two years in jail in February for hitting and kicking Tsang in Tamar Park during the Occupy protests. The four other officers have also filed appeals.

Counsel for Lau Cheuk-ngai said he plans to make arguments in six areas during the appeal hearing, including the admissibility of video footage apparently showing officers assaulting Tsang, and whether Lau engaged in a joint enterprise, according to Apple Daily.

Lau’s lawyer said news footage showed Lau attempting to intervene during the attack, but was unable to stop others from assaulting Tsang. He said Lau’s two-year sentence was too heavy as he did not engage in a joint enterprise.

Lau pleaded in mitigation earlier that the conviction was already his biggest punishment, as it ruined his police career, Stand News reported. He said his wife was expected to give birth in July, and the trial put his family under stress.

Photo: HKFP.

‘Controversial sentence’

Judge Wally Yeung Chun-kuen lifted reporting restrictions for the hearing in light of the public attention the case has aroused. The prosecution and the defence team did not object to the decision.

He said it would be difficult to overturn the convictions, but he believed the sentences were controversial as police officers were under stress and had to face “violent” protesters during the Occupy demonstrations, RTHK reported.

Reasons for the bail decision will be announced at a later date.

Trial judge David Dufton said during the sentencing hearing that the court needed to “make an example” to ensure that no officers would attempt to commit similar offences in the future.

The other four officers are: police chief inspector Wong Cho-shing, 48, detective sergeant Pak Wing-bun, 42, and constables Chan Siu-tan, 31, and Kwan Ka-ho, 32.

Chan was convicted of an additional charge of common assault for slapping Tsang twice on his face inside the Central Police Station. For this, he was sentenced to one month in jail, served concurrently with his two-year term.

Around 20 people gathered outside the High Court to show support for the convicted officers on Wednesday.

Ellie Ng

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