HK pro-independence figure denies slapping police officer at Sheung Shui protest last year

21-Oct-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Lawyers for the founder of a banned pro-independence party charged with assaulting police and unlawful assembly have instead accused officers of provoking violence at a demonstration that took place during last year’s social unrest.

The trial of Andy Chan Ho-tin opened on Monday at West Kowloon Court, with prosecutors accusing the 30-year-old Hong Kong National Party founder of taking part in an illegal gathering in the border town of Sheung Shui on the afternoon of July 13, which followed an approved rally earlier in the day against mainland visitors and parallel traders.

Protesters were said to have surrounded four officers and challenged their decision to stop and search two men who walked past the area, with Chan allegedly slapping one sergeant in the back of the head in the heat of the ensuing confrontation.

Andy Chan at Fanling Court last year after being accused of unlawful assembly and assaulting police. Photo: Dickson Lee

Andy Chan at Fanling Court last year after being accused of unlawful assembly and assaulting police. Photo: Dickson Lee

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The court on Monday heard that after confronting the officers, protesters soon began assaulting them, pelting them with hard objects and pouring coke on them. The officers did not suffer serious injuries, but one of them, a constable, was later given two days of sick leave after complaining of tenderness in his head, chest and hands.

Chan’s lawyers, however, denied their client was involved in the assault, and instead accused police of overreacting to protesters’ verbal confrontation by drawing their batons, which in turn raised the ire of protesters.

Police footage of the incident shows Chan, wearing a black mask and T-shirt, following the four officers as they make their way out of the vociferous crowd, which can be heard insulting police and demanding they display their staff identity cards.

Chan at one point can be seen reaching towards Station Sergeant Chan Kwok-sum, but whether he hit the officer remains unclear as the camera’s view was blocked. The sergeant can be seen turning around and swinging his baton at Chan, who retreats behind a shield of protesters’ umbrellas.

Sergeant Chan testified that he was struck in the head from behind with considerable force, and turned around to see a man, Andy Chan, directly behind him.

In explaining his subsequent use of the baton, the officer said: “After I was assaulted, it was necessary for me to use a similar level of force to protect myself and my colleagues.”

Cross-examining him, defence lawyer Charles Jeremy Chan asked whether the officer might have exaggerated the alleged attack, and accused him of escalating tensions at the scene by pointing his weapon at protesters.

“I suggest to you that, although there were people scolding at the scene, the real cause of the violence was you swinging your baton [at the protesters],” the lawyer said.

The sergeant, however, denied the assertion, saying his use of the baton was reasonable.

The trial continues before Magistrate Lily Wong Sze-lai.



Category: Hong Kong

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