Occupy Central

Image problem for police as video of officers beating protester is beamed around the world

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 October, 2014, 4:41am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 October, 2014, 4:51pm

Graphic video footage that appears to show seven police officers beating protester Ken Tsang Kin-chiu - whose hands were bound with plastic ties - have plunged a force already under severe pressure deeper into turmoil.

As the clamour for either a full public inquiry or the criminal prosecution of the officers in the video - which was beamed around the world - grows, it has emerged that at least one of the officers involved was a senior detective in the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB).

Several sources have confirmed that OCTB Detective Chief Inspector Joe Wong Cho-shing can be seen in the video wearing a black vest bearing the initials OCTB over an open-necked white shirt.

It is understood that Wong - a high-flier thought to be in line for promotion to superintendent - was in command of a team put together for Occupy duties comprising officers from his own unit and Kwun Tong district's anti-triad squad.

One officer, who works with Wong said: "He was with guys from the Kwun Tong anti-triad squad due to the chaotic scenes and was in charge. They are in deep s*** but there's nothing we can do about it."

Wong, who has had a fairly high-profile role in the fight against human trafficking, can be seen in the video apparently acting as a lookout as the others appear to be take turns to kick and punch 39-year-old Civic Party member Tsang, as he lies on the ground in a darkened recess.

The police have confirmed officially that two of the seven officers were inspectors and five junior police officers. The Post understands that non of the officers have been suspended but have been reassigned to their units, away from Occupy duties.

The drama unfolded as police cleared out the Lung Wo Road area early yesterday morning, using pepper spray on protesters and arresting 45 people.

Watch: Hong Kong lawmakers react to alleged police beating of Occupy Central protester

"From what we have seen, Tsang was already handcuffed with plastic tapes ... and taken to a dark corner and beaten up," Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said, adding: "This use of power and police force is a blatant abuse of power, and from the look of it, the [officers] should at least be investigated on assault to [induce] actual bodily harm."

A few hours after the video footage was aired, photos emerged of Tsang showing several bruises on his face.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said that "the personnel concerned have been transferred away from the current positions".

A police statement said the footage showed officers "who are suspected of using excessive force". It added that the police had taken "immediate actions" and would investigate "impartially". The Complaints Against Police Office had received a complaint and would handle it.

One of Tsang's lawyers and Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok said Tsang was taken under police escort to Ruttonjee Hospital. Kwok claimed his client had been "punched and slapped" while in detention.

Independent Police Complaints Council member Eric Cheung Tat-ming said the video footage provided prima-facie evidence that the officers may have committed criminal assault.

Occupy Central organisers condemned the officers. And secretary-general of the Federation of Students Alex Chow Yong-kong called the officers' actions unreasonable and an abuse of authority.

Human Rights Monitor's director Law Yuk-kai said the officers may have breached the Crimes (Torture) Ordinance, which carries life sentences for those found guilty of inflicting severe pain on another person while performing official duties.

Law said their observers, wearing identifying vests and helmets, had also been attacked by police. The force had not responded to the claim by last night.

In 2012, Tsang was forcibly removed after he protested at the swearing in ceremony for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Tsang called for the end to one-party rule just moments before then-president Hu Jintao's address.

Emily Tsang, Niall Fraser, Tony Cheung, Jennifer Ngo, Fanny Fung, Jeffie Lam, Lana Lam and Clifford Lo