Hong Kong protests: student accused of throwing a brick at police cleared after magistrate warns of mistaken identity risk

Brian Wong
·2-min read

A Hong Kong student accused of throwing a brick at police during an anti-government protest on National Day last year has been acquitted, after the magistrate ruled the arresting officer might have caught the wrong person.

West Kowloon Court on Tuesday cleared Chiu Ka-chun of taking part in an unlawful assembly during a Tsuen Wan demonstration on October 1, 2019, four months after social unrest erupted in the city over a since-withdrawn extradition bill.

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The 19-year-old student was accused of hurling a brick off a footbridge in the direction of officers stationed below outside the Citywalk shopping centre that evening. He denied the allegation upon arrest, saying he was simply walking past the scene at the time.

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Station sergeant Lau Sai-ming, who arrested Chiu, told the court he saw a man wearing a white top and respirator throw the brick from within a crowd of black-clad protesters.

Although he could not see his face, the officer said he was certain it was Chiu who released the brick, as he had closely observed the movement of the man wearing white on the bridge, who turned out to be Chiu.

Ruling in favour of the defendant on Tuesday, Magistrate Lau Suk-han said Lau might have lost track of the real perpetrator, with video footage played in court showing the officer occasionally looking to his side rather than keeping his eyes fixed upwards after the object was thrown.

The magistrate also pointed out that a number of protesters in addition to Chiu were also wearing white at the scene, adding there was no evidence the defendant had a respirator with him at the time of the alleged offence.

“Although it was suspicious for the defendant to appear at the said location, the court cannot exclude the possibility that [the station sergeant] had misidentified the defendant,” Lau said, before ruling the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

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