HK protests: social worker accused of obstructing police tells court he wanted to mediate between officers and demonstrators

30-May-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A Hong Kong social worker who allegedly obstructed a police clearance operation at an unauthorised anti-government protest last year told a court he was trying to mediate between protesters and officers.

Lau Ka-tung was on trial at Fanling Court on Thursday charged with one count of obstructing a police officer at a demonstration in Yuen Long on July 27.

Demonstrators that day rallied in the residential town, despite police objection, to express their anger over an attack on protesters and rail passengers by a group of white-clad men on July 21. Some protesters also blocked roads and sprayed graffiti on police vehicles and the walls of a police station.

Prosecutors alleged that the 24-year-old social worker deliberately slowed down a police procession along On Lok Road by standing in front of officers during a clearance operation at 7pm.

But defence counsel Billy Li On-yin denied there was any obstruction, saying Lau was pushed around by police during a chaotic situation during which frontline officers failed to notice he was trying to communicate with them.

Video footage played in court saw Lau, dressed in black, approach a police cordon and ask for time to allow the protesters gathered at the junction of On Lok Road and Tai Cheung Street to leave. He was subdued on the ground after he made physical contact with Constable Chan Pui-kit, who accused him of causing obstructions.

According to Senior Inspector Leung Seen-yan, the commanding officer at the scene, Lau appeared peaceful but was slow to step back as officers marched forward, delaying the police operation.

She said Lau’s behaviour caused confusion, forcing her team to reorganise their formation.

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“I felt that his presence was aimed to slow down our movement,” Leung said.

Chan said he felt Lau had pushed his shield before walking behind the police cordon. He said he was unaware of Lau’s identity, nor did colleagues seek to ascertain it.

Defence counsel Li said Lau had wanted to mediate between protesters and police at the scene, without intending to clash with officers.

However, Lau was pressed against Chan’s shield after being pushed by two frontline officers from behind during a ruckus, he said. But Chan said this was not true.

The trial is due to continue before acting principal magistrate Don So Man-lung on Friday.

Obstructing a police officer in the due execution of his duty is punishable in Hong Kong by two years’ imprisonment.


Category: Hong Kong

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