A Hong Kong court has accepted private charges filed by Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui against a traffic police officer, who shot a protester with a live round at an anti-extradition bill demonstration last year.
At a press conference on Thursday, Hui and fellow party member Victor Yeung announced the written ruling delivered by the judge after a closed-door hearing last Friday. Hui said the judge deemed there was sufficient evidence to justify the trial of the officer, who appeared to fire a live round in the abdomen of a young male protester, during a citywide strike in Sai Wan Ho last November.
The officer will be summoned to court to face three charges, including shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He could face up to life in jail if found guilty.
He is also accused of discharging ammunition with reckless disregard for the safety of others, and dealing with a firearm in a manner likely to injure or endanger the safety of others. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years of imprisonment.
Hui originally filed five charges against the officer, but the count of attempted murder and discharging ammunition in a manner likely to injure, or endanger the safety of others were rejected by the court.
The pro-democracy legislator welcomed the written ruling, saying it was “very meaningful.” He said he hoped the trial would bring justice to the injured, as well as citizens who were upset with what they saw as police brutality.
“It was the first time, and the first case of a police officer being charged because of police brutality and use of force. Even if this is only a private prosecution, the officer still [has] to appear and be tried in court,” he said.
When asked if he was worried the Department of Justice (DoJ) would intervene and take over the prosecution, Hui said the DoJ has the power to do so. But he warned the department not to interfere, saying such a move would be seen as displaying “bias” towards the police.
“Because if they truly believe in the independence of the court, they should just leave it to the court to find justice for both parties,” he said.