A retired senior policeman who was in the dock in connection with an Occupy-related crackdown has insisted that he only used “reasonable force” in a bid to maintain order on a street back in 2014.
Appearing at a Hong Kong court on Monday, Franklin Chu King-wai, 57, rejected the charge of “assault occasioning actual bodily harm”, in a case brought by a person named Osman Cheng Chung-han.
Cheng claimed that Chu struck him with a baton, causing severe injuries, during an incident on Nov. 26, 2014, when pro-democracy protesters were facing off with police on Nathan Road in Mong Kok.
According to Cheng, he was an innocent bystander and had been unfairly targeted by the police, especially Chu who was accused of landing several blows with his baton.
In the court Monday, a statement was read out wherein Chu said he was devastated to have been charged towards the end of his career after serving the police with dedication for over 35 years.
Prosecution lawyer Daniel Marash read out a cautionary statement written on March 27 this year when Chu was arrested in connection with the November 2014 incident.
In that, Chu had written in English that he had only exercised “reasonable force” against an “unruly and riotous crowd”, Apple Daily reports.
Denying the charges of causing actual bodily harm with his baton, Chu wrote that a police officer should protect himself and his subordinates with suitable force, especially during times when there are many more protestors than police officers in a problem area.
Talking about the events that took place on Nov. 26 in Mong Kok, Chu noted that demonstrators had gathered that night to break the defense line that the police had created.
Despite multiple warnings, the protesters failed to back off, prompting authorities to launch crowd control measures.
According to Chu, Cheng had been one of the most active rioters.
As an experienced officer, he made the decision in good faith to use force and bring the situation under control, Chu said, insisting that he believed he was doing the right thing.
Chu stated that he felt shocked and heartbroken by the charges laid out against him after his loyal and dedicated service to the police.
He added that he is determined to fight it out in court to clear his name.
Cheng also appeared in court and gave his version of the events. According to him, he had only been passing through Mong Kok that night, trying to meet up with a female friend after work.
He said he had been worried about the safety his friend — a person identified as Rose Ma — knowing that there had been some riots nearby.
As he was walking along Nathan Road, he was hit by police batons, he said.
Cheng insisted that he had arrived at the scene only to meet up with his friend Ma, but defense lawyer Peter Pannu was suspicious of his testimony.
Pannu accused Cheng of being a very active member of the Umbrella Movement, providing as evidence a comment that Cheng posted on social media in which he said he was going to “hit the cops” after work.
Pannu had also presented evidence showing Cheng commenting that “Hongkongers cannot be killed. If you want Queensway, I will seize Lung Wo Road until you listen to what I have to say.”
Cheng admitted to being a participant in the Occupy Central movement, but denied being a full-fledged activist.
The defense continued to challenge Cheng by showing articles that he had written stating that he would “change the battlefield to Mong Kok”, and “conflict, but we win finally”, indicating that he had been among those who were waging battles against the police.
The prosecution, on its part, said that no matter what situation, Chu’s attack should be deemed unreasonable, and that the policeman may have abused his power.
The trial continues on Tuesday.
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