Tiananmen Square crackdown

Police chief sued over detention of reporter

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am

The Apple Daily newspaper has sued police chief Andy Tsang Wai-hung over what it says was the illegal detention of one its reporters during President Hu Jintao's recent visit to Hong Kong.

The newspaper and the reporter involved in the incident on June 30, Rex Hon Yiu-ting, filed a writ of summons in the High Court yesterday seeking damages for false imprisonment as well as legal costs.

Hon was removed from a media area and held in a stairwell for about 10 minutes after shouting a question to Hu about the Tiananmen crackdown while the president was visiting the planned Kai Tak cruise terminal.

Aside from Tsang, the newspaper's suit targeted an officer named Chan Tat-pan and three other unidentified officers involved in the incident. After his detention, Hon said that police officers told him he had caused a disturbance by asking a question too loudly.

The incident has drawn widespread condemnation from journalists and democracy advocates, who contend the detention calls into question the city's guarantee of freedom of the press.

The police force has blamed the detention on an error of judgment by a police inspector. Tsang did not answer reporters' questions about the court action yesterday, saying the police had already responded to questions. The police are expected to either settle or contest the claims within two weeks.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Sabre, the maker of the pepper spray that police used on protesters during Hu's visit, said the company's products 'have never caused any permanent injuries'.

He also said the product used by the Hong Kong police - Sabre Defence - was of low strength and contained 'only 25 per cent of the strength' of the strongest products available.

Earlier, Assistant Police Commissioner Winnie Chiu Wai-yin admitted the police used pepper spray canisters with jets more powerful than those used previously by the force, but insisted this did not breach safety guidelines. Protesters said the spray used was much stronger than that used in the past and hurt their skin.