Three police officers have been sentenced to prison terms of between 17 and 32 months after a security camera showed two of them beating a 62-year-old detainee who was tied to a hospital bed.

The footage showed uniformed police officers Au Kwok-wai and Tang Man-him punching the genitals of Chung Chi-wah, slapping his face and prodding him with a baton. District court judge Johnny Chan sentenced Au to 32 months in prison and Tang to 31 months.

Au Kwok-wai and Lam Man-hin.

A third officer Lam Yik-sing, who was present but failed to prevent the attack, was sentenced to 17 months.

Chan said the offence was more serious than when seven police officers beat up Ken Tsang, an activist and social worker arrested and handcuffed at a protest in 2014, and the assault had damaged the reputation of the police and of Hong Kong.

Chung had been arrested – and was later convicted – for assaulting an officer while drunk. In August last year, his sons and former lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting revealed the footage.

Au and Tang pleaded guilty to misconduct last month. Lam Yik-sing was convicted of misconduct, after pleading not guilty.

Ex-lawmaker Lam, who has been assisting the family, said the sentences sent a signal to police that they must not abuse their powers. The case “is only the tip of the iceberg” in Hong Kong’s problem with police brutality, Apple Daily quoted him as saying.

The officers’ sentences cannot compensate for the victim’s psychological trauma, Lam said, as he continues to receive counselling from a psychologist. The family will file a suit seeking damages from the police in March.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.