Hong Kong police have refused to apologise for the assault of a 62-year-old man by two officers at a hospital – an incident that the victim’s son and a human rights group said could constitute torture.

Three were arrested over the incident on Tuesday, with one having already left the force. The other two officers were suspended from active duty.

The victim’s younger son, surnamed Chung.

On Tuesday, the victim’s son came forward with CCTV footage showing two officers mistreating their father, The footage appears to show the men punching his genitals, slapping his face and thrusting a baton at him.

The younger son, surnamed Chung, accused officers of “not taking the case seriously” when he approached the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) – an internal department in charge of complaints.

Police spokespeople defended the CAPO on Wednesday, saying that they tried calling Chung four times – in early July, mid-July and early August.

John Tse. File photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

However, Chung refuted the official version of events: “In the first two weeks, they only sent one email to tell me they opened a file. I picked up every call, even spam calls, but [police] never contacted me by phone.”

“They called once the CCTV video became public. I feel they don’t want to work on the case at all,” he added.

Chung said that the arrests were just to put up a show, asking: “If they really wanted to act on it, why would a citizen be faster than them? Why would we even need police?”

Chief Superintendent John Tse told reporters on Wednesday that the force was “shocked and disappointed” by the actions of the officers, saying they fell short of public expectations and affected the reputation of the police.

However, when pressed by reporters, Tse offered no apology for the hospital assault or for the subsequent investigation. Police will make a full account to the victim and his family after the investigation is complete, he said.

CCTV door sign

Police on Tuesday claimed they did not know about the CCTV installed at the ward, which was why they did not think to ask for it at the hospital.

However, local news wire Factwire cast doubt on that version of events later that night, as the room – listed as a “Disturbed Patient Room” – had a sign on its door stating that it was under 24-hour CCTV surveillance.

Tse said on Wednesday that the CAPO investigators may have been “misled by past experience,” which caused the officer to believe that hospital wards usually had no cameras.

“There was no intentional delay in the investigation progress,” Tse said, but admitted that the officer made an incorrect judgment call.

However, the victim’s younger son Chung once again disputed the account, saying that he explicitly told CAPO investigators to check the CCTV footage when he first made the complaint in late June.

Police headquarters in Wan Chai. Photo: inmediahk.net.

“I strongly emphasised this point, but [the officer] never wrote it down,” Chung told reporters. His father had told him about the surveillance cameras, he added, but the investigators appeared to be “lazy” when taking his statement.

Tse said that there was no mention of CCTV in Chung’s complaint statement, and that he had no information on whether the CAPO officer deliberately chose not to write it down.

The three officers – who were from Sheung Shui and Tai Po police stations – were not involved in policing any of the recent anti-extradition demonstrations, and did not make any arrests in connection to the protest movement.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.