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Occupy Central

Outraged Hong Kong police officers condemn court verdict in Ken Tsang assault case

Senior officer calls for ‘restraint’ as Junior Police Officers’ Association says court decision to jail seven members of the force for two years was ‘beyond their acceptance level’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 3:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 11:14pm

Frontline police officers and union members have said the verdict jailing seven of their colleagues for beating Occupy activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu was “beyond their acceptance level” and some believe there may have been “political factors” behind the court decision.

A police union, which represents more than 20,000 members of the force, said in a statement that they were “extremely shocked” by the verdict.

The chairman of the Junior Police Officers’ Association, Joe Chan Cho-kwong issued a statement to all members on Friday morning and said the sentence was unacceptable and the union would raise funds for the seven, who have decided to appeal against the ruling.

Occupy activist Ken Tsang hails ‘minor victory against police violence’ as seven officers get two years’ jail for beating him

“I feel shocked [over the jail term] like every one of you and found it unacceptable. The jail term already went beyond our acceptance level,” Chan said in the statement.

“It is understood that the seven colleagues have decided to appeal against the case that bears a lot of suspicions and an unacceptable sentence. We will raise funds for them so as to ease their financial difficulties brought by the incident,” the statement continued.

Chan added he would attempt every legal means to seek justice for the officers.

A police officer, who did not wish to be named, told the Post his Whatsapp groups were flooded with unhappy and irritated messages from his colleagues since the court handed down the two-year sentences on Friday morning, with many of them comparing the jail term with other convictions.

Examples included a Nepalese hawker who was jailed for one year for manslaughter which caused the death of a food and hygiene officer in 2015, and a teen who hurled a brick at a police officer during the Mong Kok riot last year was put on 18 months’ probation.

“Throwing bricks at police officers can be lethal ... so many officers asked: are ‘fighters for democracy’ free to behave like that?” he said, adding that he found the two-year jail term “quite harsh”.

“The sentence would discourage police officers with passion,” another officer told the Post anonymously.

Some officers turned their Facebook profile pictures black to express frustration and sadness over the verdict.

Another officer, who believed the group should not be convicted, said he felt “heartbroken” for his seven colleagues and the city’s legal system, as the group did not go through a “fair judicial procedure”.

“The evidence was broken and the news clip was edited. Is it fair to convict the seven? Many of the cases I have handled were dropped for this reason in the past,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Seven policemen convicted in Ken Tsang assault case spent HK$9 million on their defence

“The court said the sentence should have deterrent effect as they were police. But how about those who broke the law during the Occupy Movement? They are lawyers, teachers and social worker as well who should hold high integrity. I believed political factors were behind the verdict.”

A senior police source in a directorial rank said his colleagues should not be blinded by “sympathy” over the seven officers, as questioning the city’s judiciary system was a “very dangerous act”, which could mean the courts had also mishandled all crime cases cracked by the force in the past.

He said that no one in the city, especially law enforcers, should judge any court rulings as the independent judiciary system was a core foundation of Hong Kong.

“If we doubt or even overturn the legal system based on this court case or out of sympathy to the seven officers, then does it mean the courts had also flawed when handling all crime cases in the past?” the senior police source said. “I understand the disappointment and frustration over the verdict, but questioning the legal system is very dangerous.”

The chairman of the police inspectors’ association, Lee Jim-on, said he was “surprised” by the jail term. He also issued a letter to members, urging them to stay restrained, despite their anger and frustration over the case.