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Court acquits Hong Kong man accused of pushing policeman during protests

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Source: SCMP

 

General view of Kwun Tong Law Courts Building. 03MAY16. SCMP / Nora Tam

A Hong Kong man accused of pushing a 

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 during last year’s anti-government protests has been acquitted of assault after the magistrate ruled he had been coerced into making a confession.
 
Kwun Tong Court on Tuesday ruled that Kwong Chi-wai had been subjected to physical and verbal abuse by police officers following his arrest on the night of November 12, when protesters blocked roads in Kowloon Bay as a continuation of a 

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 that took place a day earlier. The 39-year-old interior designer was said to have ignored police warnings and walked towards a cordon on the pavement of Kwun Tong Road, outside Kowloon Bay MTR Station, before using his right shoulder to hit Constable Tse Chun-hung’s shield. The defence counsel contested the account, saying Kwong was merely a resident of the neighbourhood who was on his way home after doing his laundry. 
Fiona Nam Hoi-yan, for Kwong, complained during the trial that officers had used pepper spray on Kwong at close range before pouring an unknown liquid on his head, making the inflammatory substance flow down his body and causing searing pain. He later felt unwell and vomited inside a police van after arrest, but was asked by an unknown officer to “clean it up with his tongue” before he was allowed to get off, Nam continued, adding that Kwong was repeatedly intimidated during the car journey to the police station.

That submission was accepted by Principal Magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei, who found Kwong could not have signed the confession with full understanding of his legal rights while he was sick. Chui said her conclusion was supported by the evasive attitude of Constable Wong Ka-chun, who took the caution statement from Kwong, as he had deliberately omitted important details of the case in his own testimony – including the fact that Kwong vomited but was not given timely medical attention.

The magistrate further rejected Constable Tse’s evidence in court after finding his explanation for his course of action to be contradictory. She said the policeman did not provide a truthful account of the events, especially when he failed to explain why Kwong would assault him having complied with Tse’s initial request to stay clear of the police-check line. Chui also found it strange Tse had forgotten what happened to Kwong after the alleged attack, including how he was subdued and arrested. “I found the defendant an honest and reliable witness,” Chui said. “The prosecution has failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.”
 
The magistrate ordered the prosecution to bear Kwong’s legal costs for the proceedings. Asked outside court whether he had anything to say to the police officers involved in his case, Kwong said: “We are all Hongkongers. The same goes for the police.”

 

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