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Occupy Central

Hong Kong justice minister points finger at police for lack of legal action against officer who hit protest bystander with baton

Rimsky Yuen rejects suggestion that government lawyers had advised the force not to prosecute superintendent for assault

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 9:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 9:27pm

The justice secretary has dismissed suggestions that prosecutors had advised police not to take legal action against a now-retired senior officer who attacked an innocent bystander with a baton during the 2014 Occupy protests.

Speaking in the Legislative Council on Monday, Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung appeared to blame police for the continued lack of action against Superintendent Franklin Chu King-wai.

Asked by lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung whether the Department of Justice had advised against prosecution, Yuen said: “Your conclusion is inaccurate.”

He added: “The DOJ already gave police advice on whether to prosecute ... The time [required to start legal action] is not completely within the control of the DOJ.”

The progress of certain cases would be hindered if witnesses failed to cooperate, Yuen told the panel on administration of justice and legal services.

Chu King-wai was accused of hitting passer-by Osman Cheng Chung-hang with his baton in Mong Kok, which prompted Cheng to lodge an assault complaint to the force’s Complaints Against Police Office (Capo), which later ruled the case to be unsubstantiated.

But the Independent Police Complaints Council, the force’s watchdog which reviews Capo’s probes, said Chu should not have used force on the complainant continuously and asked the office to consider substantiating the assault allegation.

After seeking advice from the department, the force launched a criminal probe against Chu in February last year.

A police source close to the matter said that in a reply last week the department asked the force to conduct more investigations into the case.

“We will work on it as soon as possible and reply to the DOJ soon,” the source said.

Yuen also fended off criticism by pro-establishment lawmakers that prosecutors “let go” alleged offenders arrested for the 2014 protests. He said it should be left to judges to independently decide on each case.