‘I am an innocent victim’, democracy activist Howard Lam tells Hong Kong court over kidnap-torture claims
Prosecution says it has 172 witnesses against Lam, who is accused of knowingly making a false police report last year in which he described how mainland agents had abducted him and punched staples into his legs
A Hong Kong democracy activist who claimed mainland Chinese agents kidnapped and tortured him by punching staples into his legs told a court on Tuesday that he was an innocent victim and denied making a false police report.
Democratic Party founding member Howard Lam Tsz-kin, 42, was accused of knowingly making a false report to officer Wong Kai-pui at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam on August 11 last year.
The Kowloon City Court heard Lam told Wong that he was abducted at the junction of Portland Street and Pitt Street in Yau Ma Tei the afternoon before.
When asked to enter a plea on Tuesday, Lam declared: “Your Honour, I am an innocent victim, I would rather die than submit. I most certainly will not plead guilty.”
“So what is your plea?” Principal Magistrate Bernadette Woo Huey-fang asked.
“Not guilty,” Lam replied.
Seated behind him were his party colleagues Albert Ho Chun-yan and Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong.
The offence of knowingly making a false report of commission of any crime to a police officer is punishable by six months’ imprisonment and a HK$1,000 (US$128) fine.
Prosecutors revealed there were 172 witnesses against Lam, on top of CCTV footage capturing his movements that day.
The information prompted the magistrate to exclaim: “At this level of court?” She added: “I will not allow you to call 172 prosecution witnesses.
“If that is the case, please go to a higher court. Mine does not have that much time.”
The case was adjourned for a pretrial review on June 15.
Defence counsel Joe Chan, who took up the case late last month, said his team would engage experts in the meantime – to counter the prosecution’s evidence – while his client was out on bail.
Lam held a press conference on August 11 last year claiming he had been pushed into a van in Yau Ma Tei on August 10 by Mandarin-speaking men who took him to an unknown location, punched staples into his legs and dumped him on a beach in Sai Kung.
He filed a formal police report after that and had his wounds examined.
But he was arrested on August 15, on suspicion of misleading police.
The charge was amended to making a false report in November last year, after further police investigation.