Customs men say police beat them

CUSTOMS officers yesterday demanded urgent police investigations into the alleged beating of two off-duty colleagues by more than 10 policemen in a Hunghom restaurant.

The two victims, both 28, said they were handcuffed and then punched, kicked and beaten and prodded with torches and batons.

A third customs officer and four friends were made to crouch before all seven were taken to Hunghom police station.

More beatings took place on the way to the station, say the victims.

They were not allowed to phone the Customs and Excise Department or be given medical examination until after four hours of detention and interrogation.

Three officers and a friend were later told they had interfered with police work. They have been released on bail of $5,000 each.


Allegations against the uniformed officers of the Kowloon East Emergency Unit were made public yesterday by the two victims at a press conference organised by the 1,900-strong Hongkong Customs Officers Union.

They have lodged the case with the Complaints Against the Police Office.

Police last night said the matter was being investigated.

The incident is likely to strain relations between the two forces, already understood to be in conflict within the anti-smuggling task force which is made up of both police and customs officers, but led by senior police staff.


The victims showed off swollen faces and bruised eyes, as well as extensive bruises on their bodies.

Mr Yeung Hak-kwong, who works at customs' intelligence research division, said they were not given a reason or told their rights before the attack and arrest.


He said his group arrived at the restaurant at the junction of Gillies Road South and Baker Street and saw several policemen push a man against the wall outside the restaurant.

They later heard someone shout ''police beating people'', and went out and identified themselves as customs officers, but were told not to interfere, he said.

''Shortly afterwards we heard sirens and suddenly the Emergency Unit officers rushed in and demanded an identity check before handcuffing and beating the two of us,'' he said.


''Other customers were not bothered. We were beaten almost unconscious before we found ourselves in the police station.'' They were released on bail of $5,000 each in their own recognisance and required to report on March 5.

''It was outrageous; even a criminal does not deserve such brutal treatment,'' Mr Yeung said.

Union chairman Mr Cheung Jai described the attack as torture and the arrest illegal, made with abusive force.