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Hong Kong courts

Pro-Occupy policeman in Hong Kong convicted of possessing child pornography

Inspector who claimed fellow officers had planted obscene materials on his computer fails to convince judge of claim

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 5:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 7:31pm

A Hong Kong police inspector who claimed his fellow officers had planted child pornography on his computer because of his pro-democracy views failed to convince a judge of his claim on Monday.

Tony Sze Hang, 31, was convicted at the District Court of one count of being in possession of child pornography.

Returning his verdict, Judge Timothy Casewell said it was “speculation that he was so much of a problem” that other officers would have framed him.

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The inspector pleaded guilty to another count of accessing a computer with dishonest intent before the trial took place. He admitted leaking his colleagues’ personal details to an Occupy movement group on Facebook in 2014.

At trial, he testified that since the start of the investigation, he had been bombarded with offensive text messages from his colleagues, whom he suspected might have set him up.

The messages never went beyond an expression of opinion
Judge Timothy Casewell

But the judge said on Monday: “The messages never went beyond an expression of opinion.”

Casewell also said Sze’s superiors might have removed the inspector from the front line over disciplinary hearings relating to politically charged matters. But the judge, citing internal reports, said his superiors appeared to have taken a tolerant approach.

There was therefore no basis and opportunity for Sze’s colleagues to frame him, Casewell said. Nor did he find any hostility on the part of the superiors against the inspector.

The judge remanded Sze, and sought psychological reports on the inspector. 

The married father is to be sentenced on December 11 for both offences.

The court heard the force began to look into Sze in November 2014, after they found images of the law enforcement agency’s phone book that contained details of two officers on the internet. The images were posted on a Facebook group set up for Occupy protesters to publicly identify people regarded as acting unfairly against the movement.

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In the 79-day protest, demonstrators took to major roads in Hong Kong to advocate greater democracy in the city. The movement saw increased tensions between local police and many residents.

Sze was later invited to help in the investigation of the Facebook group postings, during which a Lenovo computer and an external hard drive seized from his home were found to have contained obscene materials.

Delivering his verdict, Casewell accepted the prosecution witnesses, comprising officers who handled the devices, as reliable and credible. He believed the devices had been “properly seized and properly sought” with no evidence of tampering.

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During the trial, Sze contended that guests to his home who had visited before might have accessed his computer, including his brother-in-law from the mainland.

But the judge said the “only reasonable inference” to be drawn was that Sze had been the sole user of the computer because it had been protected by a password.

The court had heard Sze was transferred to administrative duties before the present offence, following internal disciplinary proceedings. One involved his support online for Alpais Lam Wai-sze, a local primary schoolteacher who had criticised police and stirred controversy for hurling profanity at officers in 2013.

Another disciplinary proceeding focused on the inspector’s posting online a photo showing officers during the Occupy protests being given lunchboxes and accusing the force of giving them raw meat.

“Hang in there, Sze Hang,” his supporters at the court’s public gallery yelled on Monday before he was taken away from the dock.