A Hong Kong police officer who intercepted two students as they allegedly taped protest-related posters to government property has admitted in court he did not follow the force’s procedures while handling the case four months ago.
West Kowloon Magistracy was told pupils Ho Chi-ching and Kwok Hiu-nam posted three placards on a bridge railing in Tsing Yi on August 5, a day of citywide strike action.
The maximum penalty for the offence is a HK$10,000 fine upon conviction.
Senior Constable Lau Yick-pang said both pupils admitted the act during questioning. But Lau also admitted he forgot to note down in writing their confessions and the evidence seized from the pair in accordance with Police General Orders.
He said he had been occupied by matters including the handling of exhibits, jotting down events before the incident and applying for a summons. “I forgot to write them down for an instant. I couldn’t remember that many details.”
Nonetheless, Special Magistrate Lau Suk-han found the prosecution had established sufficient evidence and that the defendants, who were represented by lawyers and not required to attend the court hearing in person, had a case to answer.
She will hear evidence from defence witnesses on January 14.
Prosecutor Francis Yip Kim-ming said the yellow posters, each measuring one metre by 0.4 metres, bore black Chinese characters that said “anti-extradition to China” and “strike, class boycott, trade suspension”.
The court heard officers found three such posters affixed to the Tsing Tsuen Bridge railing, while seizing seven in Ho’s possession and a roll of tape from Kwok.
Lau, a traffic police officer who was tasked with patrolling the bridge that day, said he saw Ho affix a poster onto a fence of the bridge’s walkway as his vehicle drove past at 6.20pm. He also said he saw Kwok holding the bottom of the poster at the time.
I forgot to write them [notes] down for an instant. I couldn’t remember that many details
Lau Yick-pang, police officer
After the police vehicle stopped at the roadside, he intercepted the pair who had walked down from the bridge. He said both defendants admitted affixing the posters to “voice out their demands”.
A video played in court showed Lau and his colleague Jacky Lim Chi-leung carried out a body search on Ho under the bridge, but found nothing suspicious on him.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Alex Lam Chi-yau, Lau said both defendants were affixing a poster to the railing when he drove past. In another version, however, Lau said he only saw the defendants taking hold of the poster without any apparent acts of affixing it.
“All in all, the two handled and touched the posters,” he told the magistrate after some rounds of questioning.
Lam accused the officer of failing to take notes of the body search, but Lau said it was not a formal one and did not require documentation.
“We only did an ordinary and quick scan on him. We patted his pockets to see whether he had offensive weapons with him.”