Hong Kong prosecutors were on Friday forced to drop charges against a defendant arrested over the anti-government protests due to insufficient evidence, the fifth prosecution case withdrawn in a month.
Chef Staniel Chan Yiu-kwan, 54, saw his charge withdrawn at West Kowloon Court on Friday, nine weeks after he was charged with assaulting a police officer on September 21, when he was arrested near Mong Kok Police Station. That night, protesters gathered outside the station and confronted police after a rally in Tuen Mun.
According to prosecutors, Chan had assaulted station sergeant Pak Ngo by punching him in the right arm at the junction of Sai Yeung Choi Street South and Bute Street. But the defence counsel said video footage taken by RTHK showed it was in fact the officer who had charged towards Chan and attacked him.
A spokesman from the Department of Justice said the prosecution had found no reasonable prospect to convict Chan after reviewing all relevant evidence, including the RTHK footage, and agreed to withdraw the charge.
On Friday, prosecutor Melinda Tong Dak-pui told Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen that the prosecution would not object to Chan’s application for costs.
Outside court, Chan said he had done nothing but raised his hands when the sergeant rushed towards him, snatched his hat away and hit him.
Heaven would fall had the court ruled otherwise … It was downright an indiscriminate arrest.
Staniel Chan Yiu-kwan, 54
He said he had been prosecuted simply because he shouted curses at police.
“Heaven would fall had the court ruled otherwise … It was downright an indiscriminate arrest,” he said.
Chan claimed Pak had threatened to “make him pay” while he was detained at Mong Kok Police Station for questioning. He said he did not dare to join the protests after his arrest. “But of course, for now, I will stand up again and continue the struggle,” the chef added.
Chan said he had spent hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong dollars in the legal proceedings, including four court hearings, which would then be borne by taxpayers.
He said he was forced to cancel his dental appointment in mainland China after the court imposed a travel ban on him as part of his bail conditions.
Chan revealed he had been advised to initiate private prosecution proceedings against Pak for making a false accusation, but he eventually decided not to do so because he feared his family would be against him. “I feel very sorry to the sau zuk,” he said, referring to the protesters.
A police spokesman did not comment on Chan’s remarks, but said anyone who felt they had been unreasonably treated by police could file a complaint to the Complaints Against Police Office, a police division.
Chan is the fifth defendant arrested over the civil unrest since June to have charges dropped by the prosecution, and the second to successfully claim his legal expenses against the justice department.
On October 29, prosecutors withdrew charges against student Liu Hui-fung, 19, who was accused of carrying a foldable military knife in Yuen Long on July 27, after protesters marched in the rural town.
Liu’s lawyer said he was just a passer-by and did not possess the knife for unlawful purposes. Liu was eventually granted costs for the proceedings.
Earlier this week, three people who were charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly in Mong Kok on August 3 had their charges dropped by the prosecution.
Two of them – including 36-year-old Filipino dancer Jethro Santiago Pioquinto, who said he was on the way home and did not take part in the protest that day – had asked prosecutors to bear their costs incurred in the proceedings. Kowloon City Court will hear their applications on December 6.
In the High Court, a Hong Kong man who claimed he was shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet during an anti-extradition bill protest in June has sued police for the names and personal information of the allegedly involved officers.
Ng Ying-mo on Thursday took the police commissioner to court, demanding for the identities of the officer who shot the rubber bullet, as well as those of his squad and superior officer, to be revealed for the purpose of seeking lawful redress, in case further investigations indicated any wrongdoing on their part.
Ng’s complaint centred on an incident that allegedly took place at the junction of Tim Wa Avenue and Harcourt Road in Admiralty at about 5.35pm on June 12, when thousands surrounded the Legislative Council in protest of the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
His lawyers have sourced photos of the alleged incident and identified an officer in blue uniform, whose face was shielded by a helmet when he raised his left arm in apparent aim.
The challenge in establishing the identities of police officers without any visible identification has become a major source of public dissatisfaction, as critics have accused some frontline officers of using excessive force on protesters but have not been able to lodge complaints.
Ng’s filing revealed that he was contemplating civil action or making a complaint to the appropriate prosecuting or statutory authorities.
His case was the seventh legal challenge over police identification in the protests.
This article Hong Kong protester accused of punching policeman sees charges dropped due to insufficient evidence, in fifth case withdrawn by prosecutors in a month first appeared on South China Morning Post