Authorities Said a Protester Assaulted Hong Kong Police. Witness Video Showed Otherwise

Citizen monitor police force's power execution with their cameras. Photo taken by Gundam Lam from Use with permission.

Citizens monitor police use of force with their cameras. Photo taken by Gundam Lam for Used with permission.

Police arrested 1,003 people, including protesters, reporters and medics, who participated or were in the area of the massive Occupy Central sit-in between September 28, 2014 and December 15, 2014 in Hong Kong's Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. Among those arrested, more than 100 were prosecuted. The majority of cases are headed for prosecution.

Thanks to the watchful eye of ordinary citizens who bore witness to the “crime scene”, a number of cases have been acquitted.

One such case is that of 17-year-old student protester Ho Pak-Hei. On April 2, he was acquitted of assaulting a police officer in Mong Kok in November because a retired couple appeared in court and presented a video that showed the student did not touch any police officer.

W.B. Yeung, from an organization called the Progressive Lawyers Group, recounted Ho's story for non-profit online media the Stand News, and Jason Li turned the post into a comic (republished here with his permission):

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The protests, dubbed the Umbrella Revolution or Umbrella Movement by the media, sought to pressure the Beijing government to allow Hong Kong citizens the right to nominate candidates for the city's top leader, called the chief executive. Hong Kong, a special administrative region of mainland China, will vote for the chief executive for the first time in its history in 2017.

Though Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen stressed that decisions to prosecute were free from political considerations and would be made in accordance with the penal code and the evidence available, several cases have indicated otherwise. Below are a few examples thus far:

  • On March 20, the police decided to drop the charge against a netizen who was accused of “dishonest use of computer” during Occupy Central as they could not provide enough evidence.
  • On March 28, a journalist was acquitted of assaulting police officers as the police officers’ testimonies contradicted each other.
  • On April 10, the Kung Tong Magistrates’ Court asked the police to find the “victim” of an alleged assault committed by an assistant producer of a Hong Kong radio and television news program at the Mong Kok sit-in site in October. The prosecution was built upon police testimonies without the presence of any victim of the assault .
  • On April 10, a TV cameraman who was arrested and accused of assaulting police while reporting in Mong Kok in November submitted an application to the court, asking to be allowed to file his own criminal charges against police (”private criminal prosecution“) because they refused to investigate and prosecute four officers who allegedly attacked him during his arrest. Several pieces visual evidence circulated online indicating that the he was suddenly grabbed and pushed to the ground by a number of police officers while he was reporting.
  • On April 21, the Secretary of Justice decided to drop the charge against a construction worker who allegedly attacked a police chief at Mong Kok because a new piece of video evidence showed that the police chief was not even present in the spot where the supposed assault took place.

As W.B Yeung concluded in his article “The Courage of Ordinary People, and Its Opposite” about Ho Pak-Hei's acquittal:

Ho’s acquittal and the acts of the elderly couple gave us an opportunity to celebrate the courage of ordinary people. One day, we also hope to celebrate the courage of those in positions of power to admit their mistakes.

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