Li Keqiang

HKU expert says protesters can sue

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 August, 2011, 12:00am


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Police may have illegally detained three protesting students during a visit by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang to the University of Hong Kong, the dean of HKU's law faculty said yesterday.

Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun said there were sufficient legal grounds for the three students to pursue a civil case against the police for locking them up on the campus on August 18. The trio was trying to protest against Li, who was attending the university's centenary celebration.

'There is a serious case,' Chan said. 'When a person is detained without a justified reason, making him unable to leave, this could constitute false imprisonment.'

Chan said he was ready to represent Samuel Li Shing-hong, a third-year undergraduate politics student at HKU, as Li and fellow students Wong Kai-yum, of Polytechnic University, and Tang Kin-wa, of Lingnan University, considered a lawsuit. The three were seeking legal advice and would make a decision this week.

Tang recalled the trio's ordeal, saying they were crammed into a space between two fire doors. Any demands they made of the police were rejected.

'We asked around seven police officers - later replaced by seven campus guards - to reveal their identities, why we were detained, asked for the door to be opened for better ventilation but all were turned down,' said Tang.

Meanwhile, the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Tsui Lap-chee, again expressed regret about the security arrangements on campus, and said he had written to the Security Bureau demanding an explanation.

'I was deeply shocked to see so many police on campus,' he said.

The Bar Association yesterday demanded that the police and Security Bureau explain what legal authority they acted on in imposing heavy-handed security measures and restrictions on freedom of expression during Li's visit. It said there was no law allowing police to designate an area as 'a core security zone' to protect VIPs.

'The shielding of high political figures from public embarrassment at being confronted by others holding different views in the exercise of the right of expression is...a manifestly inadequate basis,' for such action, the association said.