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Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong

Hong Kong motorist in police ‘human shield’ accident says he feels ‘wronged’ by prosecution notice

Three drivers involved in fatal crash speak out for first time, urging police to take responsibility and compensate those affected

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 7:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2018, 3:15pm

Three injured motorists who were told they might face prosecution after allegedly helping Hong Kong police stop a car chase by acting as a “human shield” spoke out for the first time on Sunday, with one saying he felt “wronged”.

The incident in February ended with two people dead and the force accused of compromising public safety by forcing civilians to assist their crime-fighting operations.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun revealed on Friday that officers had issued formal “intended prosecution notices” to the injured motorists, which he condemned as “brainless”.

One of them, identified only as Wong, claimed police had not even discussed compensation with him, according to a press release circulated by To on Sunday.

“I feel wronged,” Wong said. “It’s quite laughable. The police are prosecuting randomly without any investigation.”

He said officers had taken a statement from him immediately after the accident and had confirmed receipt of his claims for repairs and other costs incurred, but had since fallen silent on the matter.

A claims handler had estimated the damage to his car to be worth HK$200,000 and said he might have trouble securing insurance for future vehicles.

Hong Kong police chief says issuing prosecution notices to people ‘used as human shields’ is standard procedure

Wong urged police to take responsibility for the episode and compensate those affected.

But a police source said the force had explained to Wong on February 15 the purpose of the notice, at his office at the University of Science and Technology. The source said Wong understood the document did not necessarily mean prosecution was forthcoming and did not question it.

“Officers have been in close contact with Wong,” the source said. “We used to call him about three times a week after the accident in February. Now we still call him about once a week. So it is not true to say we have left the matter behind. We hold records of all our correspondence.”

The source added that the force had passed all Wong’s requests and claims on to the Department of Justice on April 6, which had been processing them.

You may be prosecuted, Hong Kong police tell injured people they ‘used as human shield’

“Police are not in a position to approve claims,” the source said.

A second motorist, identified as Lee in the Sunday release, said he did not understand how he could be prosecuted after cooperating with police.

“I’m really very worried,” he said. “My head and bones are still painful today.”

The third motorist, identified by the name Cheng, said he and his wife had both suffered light injuries and accused police of not apologising. His financial loss was about HK$30,000 to HK$40,000, he said.

Police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung on Saturday said officers had followed due procedure in issuing the notices.

The case might eventually be heard by the Coroner’s Court, Lo said, which could offer guidelines for police on how to handle future cases.

The force issued a statement to rebut the accusations and said officers had been actively keeping close contact with the drivers or their lawyers.

“We have been actively following up their requests and have submitted claim forms to related departments. We have all along updated them on the progress,” the statement read.

The force previously said it was its legal responsibility to issue such notices at the early stages of a traffic accident investigation. They had been served to all drivers involved, including the police officers, the force said.