Freed teenager accuses police of racial discrimination after year in detention

Lawmaker questions strength of evidence used in court after judge dismisses case

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 4:52am

A lawmaker has criticised police and prosecutors after a teenager detained for a year on suspicion of robbery was freed and told by a judge he had no case to answer.

Nineteen-year-old Tahir Khan, who moved to Hong Kong in 2011, accuses the police of racial discrimination for depriving him of his freedom.

The construction worker was charged in March last year with assault with intent to rob in relation to a robbery that took place in the previous month. Khan, who speaks neither Chinese nor English, had a lawyer in court but was denied bail because of the seriousness of the offence.

During the robbery a man was beaten around the head. A woman who was with him when he was attacked later picked out Khan in an identity parade.

Police were granted an adjournment to have more time to collect evidence. But last month High Court judge Mrs Justice Verina Bokhary ruled Khan had "no case to answer".

Andrew Wan Siu-kin, a Kwai Tsing district councillor who is helping Khan, said the judge freed the teenager after the prosecution failed to provide DNA evidence, fingerprints or video footage. Nor were the statements of the woman witness deemed reliable, according to Khan.

Now set free, he considers himself a victim of wrongful detention and prosecution, believing he was discriminated because of his ethnicity.

"I feel very humiliated. This has made my parents very depressed and they have not been able to have a normal social life."

Barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a Civic Party lawmaker, said the police and prosecution should not have deprived the defendant of his freedom if the evidence was not strong enough.

Wan said he would help Khan to file a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Council this week.

The police said they handle each case fairly and impartially, and they carry out comprehensive investigations, seeking legal advice when necessary.