The Hong Kong police drew sharp rebuke from a local magistrate Thursday after officers failed to produce in court some photographic evidence related to a case against an Occupy protester.
Magistrate Chan Ping-chau said it is unbelievable that the police could misplace or lose a vital piece of purported evidence, Apple Daily reported.
The remark came as the court was hearing a case on Cheung Tak-chuen, a 29-year-old who has been charged with assaulting police officers during an Occupy protest in Mong Kok last year.
Cheung is alleged to have pushed a police officer by his shoulder during an October 17 protest, and also accused of slapping another in the face while in sitting in a squad car after he was arrested.
Arguing the case, Cheung’s lawyer had previously demanded that the police provide the photo taken of his client at the police station after his arrest.
A prosecutor initially declared that the photo was not available as it had been taken by another department. The police later changed the version, claiming that the photo may actually have been destroyed.
Magistrate Chan, who was hearing the case at the Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Court, was clearly not satisfied with the response from the police, saying he cannot understand how the photo could have been destroyed, the report noted.
The prosecutor then tried to offer an explanation as to the circumstances which may have led to the photo being lost.
According to the prosecutor, Cheung was photographed when he was arrested, but was then released unconditionally.
Cheung is said to have been arrested again for the second time later. At that time, the police updated the online profile, which led to the previous photo being lost, he said.
The prosecutor said it is more correct to say that the photo was “deleted from a computer” rather than having been “destroyed”.
The magistrate, meanwhile, suggested that in such cases the computer experts in the police department should have been able to retrieve the photo.
Asking the prosecutor to provide more details at the next court hearing, which is scheduled for June 4, the magistrate granted bail to Cheung.
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