Officers inflicted 117 injuries on detainee who later died, court finds

Three men guilty of causing serious bodily harm in 'subduing' Chen Chunan, who died next day

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 September, 2012, 3:57am

Three prison officers were found guilty yesterday of inflicting serious bodily harm on a Taiwanese detainee who died the day after, in 2009.

The District Court heard that Leung Shing-chi, 46, So Ka-wai, 36, and Tang Yuk-po, 46, had caused 117 bruises and wounds to the detainee's head and body - including extensive bleeding on his thigh - at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre. They said they were trying to control him after he ran into a consultation room in the centre's hospital.

"The extent and number of injuries were such that I'm left with no doubt the defendants have used unnecessary and grossly excessive force in order to subdue him," said Deputy District Judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung.

Evidence showed the defendants used force that was "outside lawful power" on the detainee's head and thigh. As it was uncertain who inflicted which wounds, the trio were jointly liable for the injuries, said Lin.

The case was adjourned to September 14 for sentencing. Lin said jail sentences would be considered. Sobs and murmurs broke were heard in court when the verdict was handed down.

The court heard that the 33-year-old detainee, Chen Chu-nan, had appeared "emotionally disturbed", but that he had been found to be in good health and stable condition by a doctor before the incident.

He was sent to a protection room on August 15, 2009, after the incident. CCTV footage of his 21 hours there showed him restlessly walking, sitting or lying down. The judge deemed it impossible for Chen to have injured himself during that period.

He was found unconscious early on August 16 and certified dead later that morning.

Chen was arrested on August 12, 2009, over involvement in a telephone scam. On August 15, he was taken to the hospital for a medical check-up, but the doctor found nothing abnormal. However, he was later seen behaving oddly, murmuring to himself and laughing, and was taken back to the hospital. It was then that he ran into a consultation room, followed by the three defendants who were trying to stop him.

They pressed him to the floor and used pepper spray on him. Chen's wounds suggested he had been hit by hard objects and kicked, the court heard.