Three of Ken Tsang’s attackers freed on bail

Three of Ken Tsang’s attackers freed on bail

A Court of Appeal judge says he does not think the officers have good prospects of overturning their convictions. File photo: RTHK

A Court of Appeal judge says he does not think the officers have good prospects of overturning their convictions. File photo: RTHK

Richard Pyne reports

Three of the seven police officers jailed for assaulting Occupy protester Ken Tsang in 2014 were freed on bail on Wednesday, while they wait for the courts to hear appeals against their convictions and sentences.

The three officers are appealing against their joint conviction, with four other officers, of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. They are also appealing against the two-year sentences handed down to them by the District Court in February.

Court of Appeal judge Wally Yeung said he didn’t think the officers had a good chance of getting their convictions overturned. But he said it was highly arguable that the officers’ sentences were excessive.

He said the crime was an extremely serious matter. However, the circumstances surrounding it were unprecedented and unlikely to be repeated. He said Ken Tsang’s “offensive, highly provocative behaviour” had been met with an equally senseless response. He said it may have been appropriate for the trial judge to have adopted a lower starting point when he sentenced the officers.

Justice Yeung explained that the appeal date is not yet set down, and it was unlikely to be heard within the next 6 to 9 months. By that time, the officers may have served most or all of their prison terms. And if the appeals against their sentences are successful, he said, they may even have served longer than they needed to.

The judge therefore exercised his discretion to grant the officers bail in the meantime.

Senior Inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai was freed on bail of HK$50,00 in cash and HK$50,000 in surety. Constable Lau Hing-pui and Detective Constable Wong Wai-ho were granted bail on HK$10,000 and the equivalent in surety. All three were also ordered not to leave Hong Kong.

Senior Inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai’s lawyer had also argued before the judge that his client had been present at the assault, but had not taken part. He relied on news footage of the event to also argue that his client had intervened twice to stop his colleagues from assaulting Tsang.

The lawyer for Lau Hing-pui and Wong Wai-ho challenged the news footage, saying the poor video quality made it impossible to make real, substantial identifications of those present. He also said there was a gap in footage showing officers carrying Tsang to a dark corner of Tamar Park, and he argued there could have been a “change of guard”, meaning his clients weren’t those captured in the news footage.

Justice Yeung said this argument wasn’t supported by evidence, and said it was equally unrealistic to suggest officer Lau had not been a party to the assault.

Earlier a group of people had rallied outside the court in support of the jailed policemen.