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Construction worker guilty of assaulting police - by whistling at them

Construction worker's action at protest march ruled an 'illegal use of force' against officers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 8:43am

A construction worker was found guilty of three charges of assaulting police officers by whistling at them through his fingers during the annual July 1 protest march last year.

Magistrate Ho Wai-yang told Eastern Court yesterday that Ki Chun-kei's whistling was so loud and piercing it caused ringing in two auxiliary police officers' ears, while a third officer immediately had to take a step back.

Ho concluded that the action amounted to "use of force" and since it was not done in self defence, it constituted an "illegal use of force".

"Every Hongkonger has the right to take part in protests. The court respects that," Ho said.

"But the court does not allow the illegal use of force."

Ho said yesterday that she accepted the three officers' earlier testimonies to the court as they were clear and unanimous.

On one occasion, Ki, 50, had whistled into an officer's right ear from a range of less than a foot. The officer earlier told the court that it caused a ringing in his ear, leaving him unable to hear clearly for two to three seconds.

Ki was acquitted of two of the five charges because one officer's statement to police differed from the testimony given in court, while another officer was unable to identify whether it was really Ki who had whistled in his ear.

But Ho said she did not accept Ki's testimony that he was unaware the officers were nearby when he whistled.

Video footage clearly showed Ki approaching the officers and whistling at them for no reason, Ho said, adding that it was "impossible" he did not know that the officers were there, since they were wearing police uniforms.

"I do not accept that he did so unintentionally," Ho said.

In mitigation, lawyer Pauline Leung Po-lam said the whistling was not as serious as other police assault cases.

"There has been actual body contact in other cases. But in this case, it was just a short ringing in their ears," Leung said.

The lawyer suggested Ho apply a fine as punishment, but Ho said she "absolutely would not" since Ki had faced "similar charges" before.

Ho said she would wait to see one background, one psychological and two mental health reports for Ki before handing down the sentence on March 12.

Kwan King-pan, chief inspector of Hong Kong Island's regional crime unit, said that while the force respected freedom of assembly, no one should be allowed to provoke, attack or humiliate police officers.

Asked if the police would lay charges against anyone whistling at officers during protests in the future, he said it would be determined at the time, on a case-by-case basis.

Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said that even if Ki had deliberately whistled in the officers' ears, he might not have intended to harm them.

In 2003, protester Sunny Leung Chun-wai was found guilty of assault and jailed for two months after he shouted through a megaphone into a police officer's ear.

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This article is now closed to comments

TheFundamentals
If whistling was looked at as an aggressive act, Clint Eastwood would have been in big trouble !
TheFundamentals
Is there a 'whistling' law in HK ?
If not, let go the man.
Camel
How about using a megaphone and scream into a man's ear, damaging his eardrum and leading to a permanent loss of hearing? Megaphones are often been used in demos and generally legal. So, let them go with it as well?
mloynd
There is no specific law against holding up a lit firecracker next to someone's ear either...so if someone did it and followed through, should we 'let go the man' as well?
mercedes2233
There does not have to be a 'whistling law'. As long as one deliberately provokes another, that is an offence.
blue
there's an "assault" law in HK and whistling has been interpreted as assault by an independent court of law. The defendant has the opportunity to appeal.
chanwan
The outcome of this case so far is what it should be. You assault a policeman. You go to jail. Fair and square. What I'm a bit concerned about is that members of the police force nowadays seem to have a liking to make comments to the press regarding court cases. In this case, CIP Kwan was quoted to be saying," no one should be allowed to provoke, attack or humiliate the police"
The police force should strive to appear impartial, having the utmost respect for the judiciary.
Adding this kind of ill thought through comment erodes that. Hope that someone in the police force notices this.
mloynd
It's as if protesters can do no wrong nowadays. Has the author of the article actually seen video footage of this gentleman carrying out the 'whistle assault'? I have, and it clearly shows the gentlemen in question provoking the auxillary policeman in a rather imposing and threatening manner. If my memory serves me right, the officer was carrying out crowd control and merely asking the protesters to continue walking to avoid creating a bottleneck - the gentleman then appears to walk back on several occasions to confront the officer. I must commend that particular policeman for showing professionalism and restrain. So where should we draw the line? When a law enforcement officer is slapped, punched, shoved, pushed? I think the title of the article itself reflects a certain lack of objectivity by downplaying the event: 'by whistling at them'. This appears to be a rather subjective interpretation of the event - why can't someone be hurt by a whistle? When is a pat on the back a violent shove? I have every respect for freedom of the press, freedom of speech and the right to protest, but I think we have to draw the line somewhere - protesters who show disorderly, disruptive and violent behaviour, especially while unprovoked, cannot play the "suppression of freedom" card on each and every occasion or be above the law. I also think our journalist friends should take a step back and perhaps adopt a more objective outlook when reporting.
CatInAFlap
Asia's Finest (bunch of softies) In the olden days this whistler would have fallen down a few flights of stairs. Probably at a later date. None of this soft-c@!* court business.
clun
Good Judgment by the Magistrate. In addition, to quote Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai speech. If Ki deliberately whistled in the officers' ears, he might not have intended to harm them.
I wonder what is he intention for ?

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