Second Hong Kong police officer granted leave to appeal against jailing over Occupy assault
Lawyer for senior inspector says previous judge failed to differentiate the role and culpability of his client from those of the other officers
A police officer who was among seven jailed over the assault of a pro-democracy activist during Hong Kong’s 2014 Occupy protests was on Thursday granted leave to appeal, becoming the second officer to gain the court permission.
Lau Cheuk-ngai, 31, a senior inspector, was one of seven officers found guilty of assaulting Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, 42, who was arrested for pouring liquid over their colleagues during a clearance operation in Admiralty on October 14, 2014.
Protesters had occupied the area as part of a civil disobedience movement for greater democracy.
On Thursday, Lau was granted leave by Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Michael Lunn to appeal against his two-year jail term.
He was also permitted to bring forward his appeal against his conviction on one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, after he raised a legal issue in which leave was not required for his appeal.
Lau’s counsel Selwyn Yu SC argued last month that District Court judge David Dufton had given undue consideration to the purported dishonouring of the city’s police force and the damage to Hong Kong’s international reputation when he adopted a starting point for sentencing at 30 months’ imprisonment.
He also said Dufton failed to differentiate the role and culpability of his client from those of the other officers.
Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin SC countered that the sentence was neither manifestly excessive nor wrong in principle. But he did not elaborate further, since the same court had already granted leave to Wong Cho-shing, another officer in the case, to challenge his sentence.
Lunn said: “In my judgment the grounds of appeal against the sentence are reasonably arguable.”
But he was not as satisfied with the grounds of appeal raised against Lau’s conviction, many of which had already been raised and rejected in Wong’s case.
The only successful ground in this case for Lau hinged on the argument that Dufton had erred in law in determining the standard of proof to be applied when judging the authenticity of the video that captured the assault.
All of Lau’s co-defendants are out on bail pending different stages of appeal. They are Chief Inspector Wong, Detective Sergeant Pak Wing-bun, Constable Lau Hing-pui, and Detective Constables Chan Siu-tan, Kwan Ka-ho and Wong Wai-ho.