Occupy protester Ken Tsang faces charges of assaulting Hong Kong police one year after seven officers allegedly beat him
Pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, who was allegedly beaten by seven police officers during the Occupy protests one year ago, will be charged with assaulting and obstructing police.
Tsang said police called him to be arrested by appointment. The charges include one occasion of assaulting police and obstruction of police on four occasions. It is understood he will be charged with one count of assaulting police and four counts of resisting police arrest when he goes to the police station.
READ MORE: Seven police officers charged with beating Occupy activist Ken Tsang face maximum penalty of life in Hong Kong prison
He told a Commercial Radio programme this morning he was left confused by the phone call, as he was expecting a decision on whether charges would be laid against the officers who allegedly beat him in Admiralty a year ago today.
“I was stunned, even though I was calm, when I heard this,” Tsang said. “I needed to think about it again because the whole thing was strange and abnormal.”
The development comes as the officers accused of beating Tsang are today expected to be formally charged and appear in court.
Tsang said he had been arrested on charges of obstructing police from carrying out their duties, unlawful assembly and not possessing an identification document during Occupy protests last year. But he was released unconditionally on these charges.
He said the latest accusation of assaulting a police officer had never been mentioned by the police on previous occasions.
"I asked a police officer if I was being asked to assist in investigations or being arrested. And he said it was an arrest," Tsang, a Civic Party member, said.
Tanya Chan, a Civic Party member and a lawyer helping Tsang, told the same programme that if Tsang and the seven police officers who allegedly beat him were charged at the same time, it would complicate the case.
On the assault case involving the seven officers, Tsang said it would be "delayed justice" even if they were charged today.
"Justice can be washed by the lapse of time ... If you say one year, the materials that are going to be presented in court are likely to face challenges, such as witnesses' memories [and] evidence," he said.
On whether it was a coincidence that police decided to arrest Tsang by appointment today, University of Hong Kong legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming said the government would owe the public an explanation if Tsang was only arrested but not charged at the same time.
“By now, a decision should have been made as to whether to press charges,” he said, adding that investigations should have been completed a year after the alleged beating, unless new evidence suddenly emerged lately.
“Now we still don’t know whether the legal advice [from the independent Queen’s Counsel hired by the Department of Justice] also touched on Tsang’s case, and [if] that would affect a witness’s credibility.”
Meanwhile, the Junior Police Officers Association dismissed any suggestion an agenda or attempt to divert public attention was behind the decision to arrest Tsang on the same day the seven officers who allegedly beat him were expected to be prosecuted.
“Police and the Department of Justice have been transparent in their work and always follow established procedures,” said Joe Chan Cho-kwong, chairman of the association, which represents over half of the 28,000-strong force.
“It’s just that their work has arrived at this stage now.”
Last night, about 100 people – Tsang among them – staged a protest at the spot where he was allegedly beaten up. “Justice delayed is justice denied. I’m not afraid but I have mixed feelings being here again,” he said.
Tsang condemned what he said was the inaction of justice officials and police to hold those who committed violence on peaceful protesters accountable. Candles lit up what has become known as "the dark corner" of Tamar Park, with a banner asking when the policemen in question would be rounded up.
The Junior Police Officers Association said it was discussing how it could help the families of the seven officers from the force's specialist Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, Kwun Tong CID and Kowloon City district once charges are laid.
READ MORE: One year after the beating of Occupy Hong Kong activist Ken Tsang: protesters gather, opinions divided
A police source close to the investigation earlier told the South China Morning Post that the officers would face court later this week.
A separate source said the officers would face either assault or wounding charges.
Both offences carry a maximum penalty of three years in jail.
Additional reporting by Samuel Chan and Stuart Lau