A recent survey conducted by the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Survey Center, Hong Kong people's evaluation of the Police force has fallen to the lowest since 1997, the handover of Hong Kong from U.K to China. This is partly due to the police suppression of civic action in the past two years. According to Civil Human Rights Front, since 2006, there were more than 70 citizens, including workers, public housing residents, clerks, community workers, teachers, social workers, artists, students, legislators, being prosecuted by the Police department for participating in peaceful protests.
Two versions of a police assault case
Before the year end, the district court convicted another citizen, Julian Fung, of police assault (Hong Kong Ordinance Chapter 212, article 36b) during the annual July 1 demonstration in 2008. Julian had to stay in prison during Christmas and New Year to wait for the sentence and verdict.
Hoidick from inmediahk investigated what exactly happened on that day:
According to Julian's version from Vartivist's video clip below (middle part), on that day, he saw the police narrowing down the demonstrators’ are, and one of the police officers was cutting the line more than others. So he stepped forward and asked him to widen the road for the demonstrators. The police pushed his right shoulder with his left hand. Since Julian was holding an elephant knife (a demonstration props made of light PVC), he lost his balance and lean back on the police officer, then the police fell down slowly on the ground.
Hoidick quoted from local newspapers report interviewing eyewitness of the incident after the July 1 demonstration, which was consistent with Julian's account:
The police version on the court (via hoidick's account) is:
Witnesses’ testimony disregarded
Although Julian has two eyewitnesses to testify that he did not elbow the police officers, the judge chose to believe the police's version because the defendant's witnesses had participated in the demonstration and therefore shared the same political view, while the police were assumed as neutral and self-righteous.
The judge's statement has ruled out any other witness account except from the police as there are mainly protesters and police officers in the demonstration area.
The “untouchable” police
However, whether or not Julian elbowed the police is not an essential point, because according to article 36B, the police is “untouchable”. Hoidick interviewed a legal expert to explain the details:
襲警罪之所以容易中招，是因為受害者為一般人的襲擊罪，襲擊的定義會按程度分為不同的罪行，如bodily harm、aggravated assault同grievous bodily harm；但「襲警罪」裏頭的「襲擊」，無論是《警隊條例》63條或《侵害人身罪條例》36b條，都沒有等級的細分，因此用的是assault一詞在刑法上最嚴格的定義──「掂一下」都係襲擊，也因此，「掂一下」都係襲警。
Police assault under article 63 usually ends up with a fine or community service, while article 36b implies imprisonment when found convicted. In the past two years, the police has applied 36b to prosecute protesters more frequently. Before Julian Fung's case, another activist Tse Pak Chai was also prosecuted with 36B, but the real story was that he was beaten up by police officers during the arrest and at the police station. The arrest process had been recorded by Vartivist (middle part of the video):
Hoidick interviewed Tse about the assault story at inmediahk:
Then 14448 came in, asked 33940 to leave the room and that another police officer will do the searching. I told 14448 that I was beaten up by the police who lied about the police assault. I asked what's wrong here? am I in Mainland China? He answer if I were in Mainland China, the story would be different…
Ironically, Tse's complaint was neglected and in returned he was prosecuted with 36B in Aug 2008. Fortunately, as the police witnesses were serving in the same police station and they were in suspect of exchanging their testimonies outside the court room, the judge decided to rule in favor of Tse.
In order to protest against the police's abuse of power and article 36B, Luke produced a spoofing video at inmediahk, using the government's propaganda against people cheating social welfare to criticize the police cheating behavior:
He also wrote down his attempt in applying for an approval from the police public relation bureau to use police uniform for the video:
Luke made three attempts to apply for the approval and his story plot was based on Tse's police assault case in Aug 2008 and nude search of Lei Dong activists in Oct 2007. The three applications were all rejected:
Luke pointed out that such mechanism would affect freedom of expression in Hong Kong as video and film producers can only represent positive image of police officers.
In two days, on 7 of Jan, the district court will announce the sentence. It is estimated that Julian will have to stay in jail for 3-9 months. Even though he will file an appeal, by the time the case reach the appeal court he will be in jail for a couple of months.