What does 'false imprisonment' mean?
Incarceration is not the key in proving false imprisonment, a legislator and barrister say. The issue is whether the person was intentionally confined without consent - and that could be a criminal offence.
The remarks came after the release of a report last week by a panel appointed by the University of Hong Kong to review arrangements for Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's controversial visit last year.
It stated there was no evidence that protesters were falsely imprisoned during Li's visit to the campus.
Student protester Samuel Li Shing-hong has said he will take court action because he was contained in a stairwell by police.
But the review panel cited evidence showing that a door to the stairwell was open at the time and that Samuel Li's accusation could not be substantiated. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun said yesterday that although the door was open, it could be argued that the protesters had been barred from leaving the stairwell. 'If there are so many police surrounding you, it doesn't matter whether the door was open or not,' he said.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said that under Hong Kong law, incarceration was not a requirement for false imprisonment.
'I have handled some court cases where the victims were escorted back to Hong Kong after losing big in Macau,' he said. 'It could have been a somewhat lively atmosphere but the people were not necessarily handcuffed. Yet this could already be deemed false imprisonment.'
But he said that whether Li had a valid claim depended on the circumstances of the case. 'This would be resolved in the court,' Luk said.
Police praised the review panel for concluding that its action did not constitute false imprisonment.
According to the report, witnesses said the protesters were taking pictures of police officers and joking with each other, indicating they were not distressed by the incident.