It has been 9 months since the anti-extradition bill movement launched in June last year and police arrests are still ongoing. More than 7500 people have been arrested, and about 1200 have been charged with offences including riot, unlawful assembly and assault on police officers, and brought to court for trial. The Stand News has studied these cases and found at least 100 were absent from first hearing because of injuries requiring hospitalization. Not uncommonly defendants appeared in court with obvious injuries. At least 20 of them complained that they had been punched, dragged face-down on ground or assaulted with batons by the police resulting in multiple swellings and bruises. There were people who had half their incisors broken, transiently lost hearing or vision, and even needed to appear in court in wheelchair.
In addition, at least eight people complained that they sustained fractures during arrest or after being beaten by the police. There were female defendants with rib or hand bone fractures. Another three were beaten by police officers using batons, causing bleeding from the head which required anywhere from two to six sutures.
Summarized from reporters of the Stand News and other media, about 20 defendants who had complained about police assault appeared in court with obvious injuries. Some of them were subjected to police violence even when they did not resist. A young defendant appeared in court with his right face completely swollen, unable to open his right eye. An 18-year-old female defendant appeared in court with a neck collar. A 22-year-old Polytechnic University (PolyU) student claimed that he was assaulted by a number of police officers with baton resulting in a slight limp when he appeared in court. He was also beaten in his left eye by police officers with baton that led to transient loss of vision. A 15-year-old defendant claimed that he was beaten and slapped by police officers after arrest, causing him transient hearing loss.
In reply to an enquiry from the Stand News on the latest prosecution figures, the police said that from 9th June last year to 20th February this year, a total of 7549 people had been arrested during protests in various districts. Of whom 1191 had been charged with offences including riot, unlawful assembly, assault on police officer and possession of offensive weapons. Half of them, as many as 553, had been charged with riot.
Of the 1,191 defendants, 242 were from the PolyU clash, accounting for 20% of the total. That was the highest number of arrests made by the police in a single day in the anti-extradition bill movement. While the number of arrests is stunning, the number of defendants injured as a result of police brutality in the PolyU clash cannot be ignored as well. Of the 242 defendants charged with riot, 53, or more than 20%, were absent from the first hearing due to injuries. Many who appeared in court were still with visible injuries after discharge from hospital. Here we present a few cases of defendents’ absence from first hearing of the 18th November riot case.
18th November, 2019. Protests in solidarity with PolyU. 242 charged with riot. 53 absent from first hearing due to injuries
In mid-November last year, PolyU was heavily besieged by the police for days on end and many people were trapped inside the campus. 242 people were arrested in the periphery of the PolyU while expressing support to the university and all of them were charged with riot. The case had its first appearance in court on 21st November last year. 53 defendants were absent from the hearing while hospitalized for injuries. The defence complained about numerous defendants being treated with violence by police:
– A 25-year-old male construction worker was deliberately punched in the left shoulder wound by police officers, who asked him to stand naked next to air conditioning vent and raise his buttocks and delayed his transfer to hospital for 18 hours. He was diagnosed to have fractured left shoulder.
– A 22-year-old construction worker was hit twice on the back of his head and his thigh with a baton by police officers, requiring two stitches to the back of his head.
– A 24-year-old chef was punched in his left eye by an unidentifiable police officer. He appeared in court with a swollen left eye.
– A 25-year-old male clerk, who did not resist when arrested, was “beaten numerous times” with a baton and suffered a fractured left hand. He was delayed medical treatment for 42 hours, leaving the wound inflamed and unable to be closed.
– A 17-year-old male student was punched and kicked in the head by police officers, dragged along with his face down on the ground causing abrasion, and then strangled by police officers resulting in breathing difficulty.
– A 21-year-old male student was hit on the head with a baton by an unidentified police officer in the police station. His right face was completely swollen and his right eye was so swollen that he could not open it. Both his eyes were bruised.
– A 22-year-old male student was beaten with a baton and pepper sprayed by police officers even after he was subdued. He was also dragged for about 20 seconds, breaking half his incisors.
– An 18-year-old female defendent appeared in court with a neck collar and bandage on her left hand
– A 19-year-old female defendant was dragged on ground by police officers and beaten on the back of her head and body with a retractable baton despite having no resistance, resulting in transient dizziness, bruising on her legs and a fractured left clavicle which required surgery.
In cases involving more than one defendant other than the PolyU clash, 10% to 40% of the defendants were unable to attend the first hearing due to injuries. Even worse in some cases, all defendants were absent.
3rd August. Wong Tai Sin clash. 3 males charged with assault on police officer. All hospitalized.
– A 20-year-old male student suffered comminuted fracture of left arm. He appeared in court in patient’s clothing after discharge from hospital, with his left hand bandaged in arm sling.
– The other two defendants sustained injury to the right eye and redness and swelling on the left side of the nose, and injury to the eyes respectively.
5th August. 5 persons charged with criminal damage to traffic lights in Tsuen Wan. 2 hospitalized.
– A 32-year-old defendant sustained fractures of two ribs during arrest.
– A 22-year-old university student is suspected to have concussion after being subdued by police with his face thrusted to ground. The back of his head, left side of his face and his left leg were injured.
11th August. Tsim Sha Tsui clash. 17 people charged with unlawful assembly or riot. 3 hospitalized.
– A 24-year-old tertiary student was fully subdued by police during arrest, but still had a round shield pressed against his left arm, resulting in fracture.
– A 18-year-old male defendant sustained brain injury.
21th September. Surrounding Mongkok Police Station. PolyU student with mild limp and temporary loss of vision.
– A 22-year-old PolyU student defendant was beaten with batons by numerous police officers at Mongkok Police Station, resulting in difficulty in walking. He appeared in court with a mild limp.
– At his trial in January 2020, the defendant complained that officers beat him in the left eye with a baton, causing him to lose his vision temporarily.
6th October. Anti-Mask Law Wanchai clash. 14 people charged with riot, etc. 6 hospitalized.
– A 21-year-old PolyU female student was beaten with a baton in the head during arrest, requiring six stitches and four days of hospitalization. When appeared in court, she had a plaster on her right forehead.
– A 13-year-old defendant was forcibly pressed on the back of his neck, resulting in redness and swelling. He also had injury to the back and required orthopaedic consultation.
– A 16-year-old defendant had been hospitalized for a baton attack on his right arm at the time of his arrest.
19th January. Mongkok clash. 16-year-old male student charged with assault on police officer, appeared in court in wheelchair
– The case was first heard on 21st January and the defendant was absent because of hospitalization. He was discharged on 23rd of the same month and appeared in court in wheelchair.
– The defendant complained that after the police had subdued him, he was still beaten on the head and legs with a baton. He was beaten in his wounds in a police car, and beaten again by police officers in Mongkok Police Station.
2nd February. Opposition of the use of Heritage Lodge as quarantine camp. Male student required 3 stitches in the head.
– A 24-year-old male clerk complained of being “beaten from head to toe” in police station while encased in black plastic or cloth bag.
– A 18-year-old male student appeared in court with gauze taped to his head, was reportedly hit in the head by the police during arrest, requiring three stitches.
2nd March. 15-year-old boy briefly lost hearing in his right ear after suspectedly pouring drain cleaner onto police officer X
– The defendant complained that he was beaten and slapped by police officers after arrest, causing him to lose hearing in his right ear for a period of time.
– The defendant had not fully regained his hearing when he appeared in court on 7th March. When the prosecution read the charge, at one point he said he could not hear it clearly.
Three cases of explosives discovery. Six people charged. Two hospitalized for fractures
– Male defendants aged 36 and 29 sustained fractures during arrest requiring hospitalization.
In addition to physical violence, many defendants also complained in court about verbal threats by the police, including threats to their personal safety and threats against their girlfriends and relatives. At least two female defendants complained that the officers threatened them with rape and a male defendant accused the officers of threatening to sodomize him. Some of the cases are as follows.
2nd September. Three people charged with conspiring to damage Yau Tong MTR station. Officers threatened with police dogs.
– A defendant complained that he was threatened by police officers with a police dog during arrest and was demanded to hand over his mobile phone and password. A police officer said, “The dog hasn’t had breakfast yet. I’ll get it bite you if you don’t quiet down.”
1st October. Wong Tai Sin clash. 15 persons charged with riot.
– Defendants were threatened by the police, “You guys keep coming out. I’ll bring my gun after I’m off work. Shoot you one by one.”
18th November. Peripheral clashes in solidarity with PolyU. Defendants accused the police for threatening of rape and sodomy.
– A 19-year-old female defendant was threatened by a male police officer in police station: “Have you ever been raped? That room outside is a rape room, believe it or not.”
– A 16-year-old male student complained that an unidentifiable masked “raptor” (Special Tactical Squad officer) threatened him: “I’ll take you to San Uk Ling (a holding centre near the border) for sodomy!”
12th November. City-wide strike. Female associate degree student charged with possession of offensive weapon complained about threatened rape by male police officers.
– After the female defendant was taken to a police car, a male police officer in the car threatened her: “I’ll rape you here, believe it or not.” Two masked male police officers slapped her without warning and scolded her fiercely for “stinking X” (foul language).
Three cases of explosives discovery. 6 persons charged
– A 25-year-old defendant was arrested along with his girlfriend. He complained that a police officer had said that he had better admit the charge or else he would “mess up your girlfriend” and “other people have been beaten up so badly, do you want to try?”
16th January. Water pipe and bomb case in Sheung Shui. 29-year-old male resident charged, family members arrested along with helper.
– The defense alleged that the police conducted a search over two days and suddenly arrested the defendant’s wife, mother and helper.
– The defense complained that the police refused the defendant to take statements in lawyer’s presence and threatening to “frame your wife and mother” if he did not admit the charge.
Owing to the sheer number of cases and the fact that in some of the cases, legal representatives did not disclose the reasons for the absence of their defendants or lacked specific details when complaining about police excessive violence, the Stand News is unable to formulate a complete report on all cases of absence from first hearing due to injury as well as those related to complaints of police assault of defendants. The Stand News believes the actual statistics outnumbers the cases hereby presented.
Cap. 232A Police (Discipline) Regulations, Part I, Section 3
(2) The offences against discipline are—
(j) making a statement which is false in a material particular in the course of his duty or in connexion with the discharge by the police force of any of its duties or functions;
(k) unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority resulting in loss or injury to any other person or to the Government;
(m) conduct calculated to bring the public service into disrepute.
Cap. 427 Crimes (Torture) Ordinance ─ Section 3 Torture
(1) A public official or person acting in an official capacity, whatever the official’s or the person’s nationality or citizenship, commits the offence of torture if in Hong Kong or elsewhere the official or the person intentionally inflicts severe pain or suffering on another in the performance or purported performance of his or her official duties
Cap. 200 Crimes Ordinance ─ Section 24 Certain acts of intimidation prohibited
Any person who threatens any other person—
(a) with any injury to the person, reputation or property of such other person; or
(b) with any injury to the person, reputation or property of any third person, or to the reputation or estate of any deceased person; or
(c) with any illegal act,
with intent in any such case—
(i) to alarm the person so threatened or any other person; or
(ii) to cause the person so threatened or any other person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do; or
(iii) to cause the person so threatened or any other person to omit to do any act which he is legally entitled to do,
shall be guilty of an offence.
(13 of 1920 s. 2 incorporated)
[cf. Indian Penal Code s. 503]