Pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang has told HKFP that “justice delayed is justice denied,” after the Court of Final Appeal rejected an appeal application from the police officers convicted of assaulting him during the Umbrella Movement.
The city’s top court on Thursday denied the five police officers permission to appeal their convictions for assaulting Tsang in 2014. They were found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2017 and subsequently lodged an appeal which was rejected at the Court of Appeal last October.
Seven police officers were filmed by TVB kicking and punching the handcuffed social worker during an operation.
Tsang, now a district councillor, said that he believed the officers would never have been brought to justice had the incident happened today. “Rule of law in Hong Kong is falling to the extent that it has decayed. No police officer is accountable for their evildoings. The seven of them might [all] walk free.”
He compared the circumstances of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement and the current social unrest in the city, saying that he had no idea how police brutality victims would be able to pursue legal action nowadays: “[Officers] are entitled to have their faces masked with no ID numbers and no ways to identify them. The police commissioner, and officers of all ranks in the force, are defending one another within the bureaucracy.”
He added that he was not optimistic as to how the court ruling may help future victims of alleged police brutality to seek justice.
In 2014, protesters blocked main roads near the legislature and paralysed traffic for 79 days. Large-scale protests also erupted last June over a now-axed extradition bill. The movement evolved into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour and Beijing’s encroachment. The force has since received over 1,600 complaints about their conduct during the unrest.
“I don’t think police brutality victims are able to go as far in seeking justice in the context of court cases,” Tsang said. “Even if they are able to, as you can see, it is going to be a tedious process.”
Tsang added that it was a Pyrrhic victory, as two other officers accused of assaulting him had their convictions overturned last July and returned to serve in the force.
The five cops completed prison terms ranging from 15 to 18 months. Tsang said their sentences were “lenient.”