No deaths from police law enforcement at rail station: officials

September 11, 2019 13:57
A video screenshot released by MTR shows that at 10:53 pm on Aug. 31 evacuation was triggered at Prince Edward Station. Another depicts riot police entering Prince Edward Station via Entrance/Exit C2. Source: MTRC

Hong Kong authorities and the city's railway operator, MTR Corp, have reiterated that no one died as a result of a police crackdown on anti-government protesters at a train station late last month.

Dismissing online rumors of possible fatalities, officials insisted on Tuesday that there were no deaths due to the law enforcement action on Aug. 31 when police officers tried to subdue violent protesters at Prince Edward MTR Station.

In a joint press conference with representatives from the police, the Hospital Authority and the Fire Services Department, MTR said “there was no death reported that day, according to the station’s record.”

It marked the latest attempt by the authorities to quash 'false' and 'malicious' rumors circulating online that up to three people may have been beaten to death by police that day.

During the presser Tuesday, MTR showed screenshots taken from footage of CCTV cameras installed at the Prince Edward Station, Lai Chi Kok Station and Yau Ma Tei Station, aiming to prove that the online chatter was baseless.

However, reporters noted that there was no screenshot from a particular time period when anti-riot police charged onto train carriages and roughed up suspected protesters.

Facing questions, MTR explained that it was because two of the surveillance cameras were damaged or spray-painted by the protesters.

Sammy Wong Kwan-wai, MTR's chief of operations, also said the company cannot make all the security camera footage public because it has to strike a balance between passengers’ privacy and the public's concern about what happened at the Prince Edward Station.

At the news conference, a Hospital Authority senior manager, Andy Kung Chak-man, stressed that no deaths were reported in the Aug. 31 train station incident.

He also said that all those brought in with injuries have since been discharged from hospital, RTHK reported.

Lo Shun-tong, an senior ambulance officer with the Fire Services Department, meanwhile told reporters that the situation was very chaotic at Prince Edward station on the night of Aug. 31, and that his department personnel had transported seven injured people to Lai Chi Kok MTR Station before sending them to hospitals.

"The ambulance incident officer tried to assess the number of injured persons, but found that they were at different locations of the platform, which also changed from time to time, making it rather difficult to conduct a headcount,” Lo said.

After preliminary checking, the ambulance incident officer estimated that there were 10 injured persons at the scene, he added.

According to the police, the injured were among 53 people arrested at the Prince Edward Station that night.

Senior Superintendent Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan of the police's public relations branch said while rumors claimed that the families of the dead people had filed reports with Mong Kok Police Station, a check by the police showed that there had been no such reports.

Also, there had also been no one reported missing in relation to the Aug. 31 incident, after the police checked all relevant information in the missing persons unit in all the police districts, Yu said.

The officer said some people appeared to be spreading malicious rumors in a bid to "slander the government and to stir up grievances in society”.

Slamming such activities, Yu pointed out that the government, MTR and different departments have repeatedly made clarifications that the claims are false.

“There is certainly no death,” the police officer said. “That is why today we, along with representatives from the Fire Services Department, Hospital Authority and MTRC, must reiterate that such a rumor is certainly false and ungrounded.”

After the press conference, pan-democratic lawmakers questioned the credibility of evidence.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convenor of the pro-democracy camp in the Legislative Council, pointed out that the displayed screenshots failed to reflect what the situation was before and after the incident and therefore it is hard for citizens to find the images convincing.

The lawmaker demanded that MTR release the entire unedited footage from the rail station.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said MTR should disclose all the information, including on aspects such as how the people were injured, and the arrest procedures inside the station.

Full disclosure is needed in order to allay the public's concerns over the incident, the lawmaker said.

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