Ex-cop convicted in Occupy-related case loses final appeal bid

January 22, 2019 17:12
With the Court of Final appeal refusing to entertain his plea, Frankly Chu (inset) has reached the end of his attempts to get his name cleared after he was convicted earlier on assault charges. Photos: HKEJ, CNSA

A retired police superintendent who had been convicted and jailed for beating up a bystander during the 2014 Occupy pro-democracy protests has failed in his final bid to have his name cleared.

On Monday, the Court of Final Appeal rejected the application of Frankly Chu King-wai, a former Sha Tin division police commander, to entertain an appeal that sought to quash a lower court's ruling declaring him guilty of assault.

A panel of three judges at the top court, comprising Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li and permanent judges Roberto Ribeiro and Joseph Fok, announced that it sees no merit in Chu's arguments that the case merits another hearing.

Throwing out the appeal bid, the judges put an end to the case that has dragged on for more than four years, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Chu, 59, had been accused of attacking passersby with a baton during an Occupy event in Mong Kok on Nov. 26, 2014.

One of the victims, Osman Cheng Chung-hang, filed a complaint with the police department against Chu soon afterwards, saying the policeman used excessive force.

Chu, who retired on July 23, 2015, was charged with assault causing bodily harm in March 2017. On Jan. 3, 2018, he was sentenced to three months in jail by the Eastern Magistrates' Court.

After completing the jail term in October, a month after he lodged an unsuccessful appeal to the High Court, Chu brought a legal challenge against his conviction to the Court of Final Appeal, hoping to have his name cleared.

Senior counsel Charlotte Draycott, one of the lawyers representing Chu, told the top court on Monday that the lower courts had failed to consider that Chu was a policeman tasked to "go into the trouble" to maintain order.

The courts made a mistake by looking at Chu as just an ordinary man who could just walk away from the scene, the lawyer argued, according to RTHK.

Displaying a video clip in court as evidence, lawyers claimed Chu did not actually make the alleged attacks but only assumed a posture to deter the crowd at the scene, and said the lower courts had failed to explain why Chu would want to beat someone he had not seen before.

Refuting such arguments, the prosecution said the courts had viewed video footage which showed Cheng had simply been walking past Chu when he was struck.

After hearing what both sides had to say, the three-judge panel decided that the grounds for appeal were not reasonably arguable and that the panel would not hear the case.

Chief Justice Ma noted that Chu’s actions, judging from the video clip, looked rather heavy. Fellow judge Ribeiro, meanwhile, pointed out that one of the key points was whether the use of force had been necessary.

Based on the evidence, Chu did not have grounds for using any force at that time, he said.

Ma noted that it is not that the Court of Appeal did not consider the original magistrate’s ruling, which were based on all the facts, instead it is just that the top court opted not to make decisions that would be advantageous to the former police officer.

The panel said it would hand down the reasons for its decision at a later date.

Chu said through lawyers after the hearing that he was disappointed by the top court’s decision not to accept his appeal.

While he respects the ruling, the retired policeman stressed that he had been only enforcing the law at the time of the incident, and that he has no regrets at all.

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