Hong Kong accident victim accused of endangering her own safety files HK$6 million suit over ‘malicious prosecution’

Chris Lau

A traffic accident victim who spent 19 months in court to prove she did not bring severe injuries upon herself is suing police officers, prosecutors and the head of the justice department for more than HK$6 million (US$774,179) over their “malicious prosecution”.

Hong Kong resident Kamala Thapa, a Nepali national, was hit by a taxi while crossing Tai Tam Road outside the American Club in Stanley on April 25, 2016. She was then taken to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan, covered in abrasions, and with a shattered femur.

After being hospitalised for two months, she was later prosecuted at Eastern Magistrates’ Court. Her case began on June 5, 2017 and she was acquitted on October 14, 2019.

In a writ made accessible on Friday, Thapa and her lawyers argued that constable Tong Ming-kay and station sergeant Cheung Siu-wah had acted in favour of the driver Tang Wai-kit when they investigated and presented their case.

The investigation was done with malice or ill will towards the plaintiff

Kamala Thapa’s writ

“They were in breach of each of his duty to act honestly, faithfully and diligently without favour to any person, including Tang. The investigation was done with malice or ill will towards the plaintiff,” they argued.

Barristers Francis Haddon-Cave and Steven Kwan Man-wai, hired by the secretary for justice to press a charge of “negligently endangering her own safety”, proceeded with their case without adhering to the prosecution codes, they said.

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah should also be responsible because she had a duty to make sure her prosecutors followed the rules, according to the legal document filed on Tuesday.

The writ said Tong had claimed during his investigation that the CCTV footage he had viewed showed the woman dashing across Tai Tam Road when she was hit. But the actual footage fell short of capturing the collision because the camera was blocked by another vehicle.

Thapa had told Tong that the driver was driving fast and crossed from one lane to another, which caused the impact. Yet Tong ignored her complaint and treated her as if she was the suspect, the writ said.

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When the woman was first brought to court, a magistrate inquired whether there was a need to prosecute her given the maximum penalty was a HK$2,000 fine. Yet the prosecutors refused to recall the case.

Both Haddon-cave and Kwan, who took over from the former, should not have proceeded with the trial because they knew the evidence was weak, the writ said.

As a result, the experience led Thapa to suffer anxiety, mental distress, and loss of dignity.

The High Court has yet to schedule a date for the hearing. Thapa has also filed a claim against the driver.

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