Lawyer for Hong Kong policeman accused of Occupy assault ticked off for confusing magistrate
Barrister fails to sign off on agreed version of events with prosecution and submits an ‘alternative’ list of facts
The lawyer for a retired senior policeman accused of using his baton to strike a bystander during an Occupy protest in 2014 was berated by a magistrate for causing confusion by submitting “alternative” facts on the case to the court.
Former superintendent Frankly Chu, 57, earlier pleaded not guilty to one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, an offence punishable by three years’ imprisonment.
The charge followed claims by prosecutors that Chu hit passer-by Osman Cheng Chung-hang with his baton in Mong Kok on November 26, 2014, during the 79-day pro-democracy protests.
In a pretrial review in Eastern Court on Friday, principal magistrate Bina Chainrai complained that she had received two different sets of admitted facts on events – one from Chu’s counsel, Peter Pannu, and the other from assistant director of public prosecutions Ned Lai Ka-yee – instead of one set agreed and signed by both parties.
The magistrate told the defendant’s lawyer: “This is confusing ... So you do not agree that the defendant was a superintendent?
“If you do not agree with the facts prepared by the prosecutor, you cross that out,” she continued, adding that submitting a separate version of facts in court was not a common practice.
Pannu, a former police officer who went on to become a barrister, said he disagreed with the prosecutor’s focus only on the moment of the alleged strike.
“There is no point focusing on that one-second strike. How about the five seconds before? There were a lot of protesters rushing to the road,” Pannu said.
After the magistrate allowed both sides more time to settle the issue, the defence and prosecution signed a set of admitted facts.
The trial is set for November 6. Prosecutors will present three videos lasting 3½ minutes in total and call eight witnesses, including Cheng.
Pannu said he would summon the police force’s former PR chief, Steve Hui Chun-tak, who is now an assistant commissioner, to confirm details of two press briefings he gave on November 25 and 26, 2014, which covered police operations and circumstances at the junction where the alleged incident took place.
The courtroom was packed on Friday with more than two dozen supporters of Chu, former Sha Tin divisional commander.