A Hong Kong district councillor charged with assaulting a policeman during last year’s anti-government unrest has been acquitted, with the magistrate ruling the involved officer and his superior had made up the incident, then “covered a lie with another lie”.
Eastern district councillor Jocelyn Chau Hui-yan and co-defendant Lao Chak-kin, both 23, were charged with assaulting a policeman in North Point on the night of August 11, 2019.
In acquitting the duo on Wednesday, Eastern Court Magistrate Stanley Ho Chun-yiu said the officers involved had been dishonest and unreliable witnesses.
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“The two officers’ testimonies are unreasonable and artificial. When they were cross-examined, they made up the facts and tried to cover a lie with another lie. They were not honest and reliable witnesses,” Ho said.
On Tuesday, the court heard that Chau and Lao had been live-streaming a gathering at King’s Road at 9pm after an anti-government rally on Hong Kong Island. It was there they were accused of shoving Constable Hui King-yiu outside Kiu Kwan Mansion, causing him to sprain his back.
But rather than proving the assault, the footage taken by Chau showed Hui reaching for her mobile phone and telling her to stop filming, while Hui’s colleague, Senior Sergeant Lam King-nin, accused the pair of making secret videos of them patrolling the area.
As police officers, shouldn’t they stop those people who may cause a conflict, instead of intercepting some young people who have not done anything improper?
Eastern Court Magistrate Stanley Ho
Other video clips taken by journalists at the scene showed the constable subduing Chau by kneeling on her back, before pulling her up by the neck and forcefully pressing her against a wall.
Explaining his actions in court, Hui denied intercepting the two over the filming, saying he did not mind being videotaped.
The officer further claimed he was simply trying to persuade the duo to leave the scene, fearing they might come into conflict with a group of men, believed to be from the mainland Chinese province of Fujian, after hearing some of them cursing at the pair.
Lam backed up his subordinate’s remarks, adding he had not seen the constable treating Chau roughly.
Ruling in favour of the defendants, Ho dismissed the officers’ testimonies as “descriptions of a parallel universe”, pointing to the footage played at trial in which the two defendants and others visible appeared peaceful and non-aggressive.
“It is difficult to understand [the officers’ testimonies]. There was no persuasion whatsoever. If the officers emphasised so much that they did not mind being filmed, then where did the criticism [of the filming] come from?” Ho said.
He added that Lam had spoken to Chau and Lao in a contemptuous manner, and noted that Hui could be heard asking Chau to stop filming, before the footage abruptly ended.
The magistrate also found it unreasonable that the officers chose to focus on the two defendants rather than dispersing the gathering crowd.
“As police officers, shouldn’t they stop those people who may cause a conflict, instead of intercepting some young people who have not done anything improper?” he asked.
Ho also criticised Constable Hui King-yiu for using “absolutely unnecessary” force against Chau, before ordering prosecutors to bear the defendants’ legal costs.
Cleared of all charges, Chau said outside court that she and her lawyers would discuss the possibility of taking legal action against the constable, including launching private prosecution proceedings.
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