A Hong Kong court found Eastern District Councillor Jocelyn Chau and her assistant not guilty of assaulting police on Wednesday, after ruling the officers concerned were “unreliable witnesses” who “told lie after lie.”

Chau, 23, and her 23-year-old male assistant Lao Chak-hin were accused of attacking Constable Hui King-yiu outside North Point’s Kiu Kwan Mansion on August 11, 2019. On that day, protests broke out across multiple districts in opposition to a now-axed extradition law. Chau and Lao were reportedly broadcasting live on Facebook near to where some men had assaulted passersby and journalists in the area.

Jocelyn Chau
Jocelyn Chau. File photo: Jocelyn Chau, via Facebook.

According to local media, Eastern Court Magistrate Stanley Ho said the case was mainly based on testimony by officer Hui and Senior Inspector Lam King-nin, as the alleged attack was not recorded in the footage submitted to court.

Both Hui and Lam told the court that people were shouting profanities at Chau and Lao, so they decided to stop the duo out of concern for their safety and urged them to leave. But magistrate Ho said the footage showed there was no conflict at the scene, questioning the description given by the officers: “It was like describing another parallel universe,” Ho said.

Ho went on to say that the officers were “frivolous” and had appeared to attempt to block Chau’s camera. He raised doubts over why the police asked Chau and Lao to leave the scene, rather than intervening against the party that started the conflict.

The court concluded that Hui and Lam were dishonest and unreliable witnesses, who gave vague answers to key questions and made “unreasonable” statements.

“They always double-talked and told lie after lie,” Ho said.

Inappropriate use of force

Chau and Lao, who had pleaded not guilty, were acquitted of assault charges. Magistrate Ho added he would like to express concern over what he saw as an inappropriate use of force when police subdued Chau, as Hui had put his knee on the district councillor’s body and “roughly” placed zip ties on her hands.

Following her acquittal, Chau wrote a message on Facebook to thank lawyers, family and supporters. She said she was grateful for being cleared of the assault charges, but said she did not have any “special feeling.”

July 27, 2019 Yuen Long protest police
Hong Kong riot police. File photo: Studio Incendo.

“Because apart from me, the oppression from the ruling power never ceased. From arbitrary arrests to false accusations, they are still taking revenge on people in the pro-democracy camp by putting groundless offences upon them,” she wrote.

Prince Edward case

In a separate case heard at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Tuesday, a transport worker was cleared of assaulting a police officer last October.

The 42-year-old worker was accused of kicking a riot police officer surnamed Lo inside Prince Edward MTR station. According to local media, the officer involved told the court he responded to the alleged assault by wielding his baton twice. But CCTV footage showed the officer was hitting the defendant at least 10 times with his baton.

Magistrate Gary Lam said the Lo’s statement contradicted the video evidence, slamming him as engaging in “sophistry” and “talking through his hat.” The court ruled that Lo was not a reliable witness and rejected his testimony.

Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.