Police fired tear gas at protesters in Admiralty at the beginning of the Occupy protests in 2014 because they had no other choice as they faced a large crowd, a senior police officer told a West Kowloon magistrates’ court.
On the fifth day of hearings of the case against nine pro-democracy activists for their leading roles in the street protests four years ago, Senior Superintendent Wong Kei-wai testified that he was not at the scene when officers fired tear gas but only learned about it later when he watched the news, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Wong, who was assistant district commander for Central at the time, said that while he was not involved in the decision-making process, the news broadcast showed many people charging at the police’s defense line in an unpeaceful way and with unreasonable force, and therefore he was convinced the decision to fire tear gas at them was made because there was no other choice.
Asked by a defense lawyer, Senior Counsel Hector Pun Hei, if he agreed that the use of excessive force by the police on Sept. 28, 2014, the first day of the pro-democracy protests, incited more people to join the movement and occupied more public roads, Wong rejected the claim.
Wong said his 30-year experience with the force, including handling large assemblies, led him to conclude with confidence that the police made a professional judgment and used a level of force in accordance with the situation.
He said any police officer would agree with him that firing tear gas under that situation was the only choice.
The defense lawyer asked Wong if he told any subordinate to follow up on the application filed on Sept. 18, 2014 by Reverend Chu Yiu-ming for an assembly around Chater Road in Central between Oct. 1 and 3, and if he issued a notice of no objection or a notice of objection. Wong said he had to check his records to confirm whether he had made an oral reply to the request or issued a notice of no objection.
The nine defendants are academics Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chan Kin-man, and Chu – the three convenors of the Occupy Movement – Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong, social welfare functional constituency lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, former Hong Kong Federation of Students members Tommy Cheung Sau-yin and Eason Chung Yiu-wa, League of Social Democrats vice chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming and former Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat.
They pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against each of them, including conspiracy to cause public nuisance, inciting others to cause public nuisance, and inciting people to incite others to cause public nuisance.
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