A Hong Kong court has found 20-year-old Lam Tsz-ho not guilty of rioting on Monday after doubts were raised about the credibility of the police testimony.
Lam, a student, became the first protester to be acquitted in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred during last year’s anti-government unrest. He denied the offence.
Lam was accused of throwing a brick at police during a demonstration in Wong Tai Sin on October 1 – China’s National Day – last year. Hongkongers staged citywide protests on that day, in direct opposition to celebrations in Beijing.
Two police officers claimed that Lam, then 19, stood out from other protesters because he was not wearing a helmet. They claimed they spotted Lam the moment he hurled a brick and kept their eyes on him until he was subdued.
In delivering his verdict, District Court Judge Sham Siu-man sided with the defence’s argument that it was unlikely officers could concentrate on a single person during chaotic skirmishes: “The defence’s claim that police had caught the wrong person on that day is possible,” Sham wrote.
Sham went on to say at least one officer had not provided a full and truthful account of a head injury Lam sustained during the arrest. Both officers denied responsibility for the wound, with one claiming he only spotted the injury on the police vehicle.
“Both Constable Yeung and Sergeant Lam could not provide a reasonable explanation, I believe they did not tell the truth to the court. This certainly undermined the credibility of their overall testimony,” the judgement read.
Sham concluded that he could not accept the police testimony with “reassurance,” adding that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt. Lam was found not guilty and was released.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Lam thanked his supporters as well those who attended his hearings. He said he still felt unsettled, adding: “If I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it.”