By Jeanette Tan, International News Writer
Seven Hong Kong police officers have been sentenced to jail for two years each on Friday, February 17, for beating a protester during the 2014 pro-democracy rallies. The group was found guilty by a district court earlier on Tuesday, February 14, for assault occasioning actual bodily harm on activist and social worker Mr. Ken Tsang, 41, while he was handcuffed.
The beatings were caught on film by a television crew as the police officers brought Mr. Tsang to a dark corner near the protest site on October 15, 2014. In the video, they were seen kicking and stomping on Mr. Tsang as he lay on the ground with his hands bound. Two officers among the seven convicted who did not take part in the beating stood by and watched the attack.
According to Reuters, district court judge David Dufton said the two should have been duty-bound “to prevent the commission of a crime even by fellow police officers, but instead, they had encouraged the others to carry out unlawful personal violence against Tsang.”
Mr. Tsang suffered injuries to his face, neck and shoulders.
The officers initially also faced a more serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent but were later acquitted when the court found that Mr. Tsang’s injuries did not amount to grievous harm.
One of the seven officers was found guilty of another count of assault for slapping Mr. Tsang on the face twice at a police station and was sentenced to an additional month in prison. All seven officers have since been suspended from duty.
The 79-day protests in 2014 saw thousands of demonstrators blocking major streets in Hong Kong for almost three months, campaigning for broader democracy in the elections of Hong Kong’s top official. While police in Hong Kong are generally well-respected and cases of police brutality are rare, many protesters accused police for their heavy-handedness during the rallies.
Judge Dufton acknowledged that while “Hong Kong police had been working under immense stress” during the protests, there was no justification for the assault that was carried out on Mr Tsang. Dufton was also reported by BBC saying, “The vicious assault had brought damage to Hong Kong’s reputation in the international community.”
Last year, Mr. Tsang himself was found guilty assaulting police officers and resisting arrest on the same night the beating occurred. He was handed a five-week sentence and has stated that he will appeal his conviction.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st print edition.
Contact Jeanette at