Lengthy police investigation into rape surprises judge

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 4:23am

A District Court judge has expressed surprise that a police investigation into the rape of a 15-year-old mentally retarded girl is still going on after three years.

Judge Wong Hing-chun made the comment yesterday after she was told that although a suspect had been arrested, no charges had been laid against him, pending further investigation and advice from the prosecution.

"It is extremely surprising that a serious crime that took place close to three years ago would still be under investigation," Wong wrote in a judgment.

She was dealing with an application by a Nepali man for documents from the police to assist his claim for unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution, misfeasance in public office and racial discrimination.

Sombahamphe Tanka was arrested by police on December 20, 2009, one of three men suspected of raping a Chinese girl on the rooftop of a Yau Ma Tei building that day.

Tanka, identified by the victim in the street, told police he was with a friend at the time of the crime and that his Octopus Card travel records would prove his alibi. But he was detained and charged after an interview.

He was released on bail on December 30 after he appeared in Kowloon City Court.

The prosecution decided to drop the charge when Tanka applied to the High Court in February 2010 for a variation of his stringent bail conditions, court paper showed.

Tanka's lawyers took the case to court after police refused to provide documents relating to the investigation on the grounds the papers were protected by privilege.

The judge yesterday ordered police to provide some of the documents Tanka asked for.

The documents included a police notebook and the record of interview and statements taken under caution from Tanka and the other two suspects.

"Should the police fail to apprehend the true culprit in a crime or should the victim fail to pursue the prosecution, and an innocent person had been wrongly arrested, charged and put in custody for a period of time whether maliciously or recklessly, protection of the innocent person's interests and rights has to be balanced against the administration of justice," she wrote.

The judge ordered police to pay Tanka's legal costs.