Three police officers arrested over 'torture' of man in hospital

August 21, 2019 15:34
An eight-minute video shown at a press conference on Tuesday shows the 62-year-old man being assaulted by uniformed police officers. 
Photo: Video grab from Lam Cheuk-ting's Facebook page

Three police officers were arrested after they were accused of beating up and subjecting a 62-year-old man to torture while he was strapped to a hospital bed.

The arrests were made several hours after Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting told a press conference on Tuesday that the incident happened at the North District Hospital in the early morning hours of June 26, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The man had been accused of assaulting police officers while drunk.

The incident occurred at the height of the protests against the now-suspended extradition bill. Police have been accused of using excessive force during clashes with the protesters. The case is not connected with the protests, however.

The victim's two sons, who also attended the press conference, said they had filed a complaint against the three officers with the Complaints and Internal Investigations Branch of the Police Force nearly two months ago but have not received any response yet.

They said the officers had also threatened to hurt their whole family.

The hospital management, however, said the victim did not say he was being abused during the time he was confined there.

During the press conference, Lam played an eight-minute video, which had been edited from the original 28 minutes, showing the man with his four limbs tied to the gurney.

In the video, two uniformed officers and a plainclothesman are shown entering the room.

One of the uniformed officers punched the man several times in the genitals, then both slapped him in the face and used their batons to poke him.

The two officers were also seen stuffing a baton in the victim’s mouth and pointing a flashlight directly at his eyes.

After leaving the ward for a while, the two officers came back, pulled down the victim’s pants and started poking batons at his genitals and anus.

The video was taken from 2:25 a.m. of June 26, according to the timer on the screen.

According to the man’s younger son, the victim was sent to hospital in a drunken state and forced to pee in his pants because the officers had forbidden him to go to the toilet.

The elder son said he did not tell anyone about the incident until after he was able to return home.

Following the arrest of the officers, police vowed to thoroughly investigate the case in "a fair, just and impartial manner".

Lam said the officers’ acts were obviously in breach of the Crimes (Torture) Ordinance by intentionally inflicting severe suffering on a person in the performance of their duties.

The officers in question could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, while the rest who chose to turn a blind eye to the incident might have committed misconduct in public office, he added.

The lawmaker also asked the police force to pay attention to officers’ mental status, whether they are fit to perform their duties.

Two of the three officers were arrested at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, and have been suspended. The third one, who is said to have resigned after the incident, was arrested later in the night.

In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun-chung of the Police Public Relations Branch said the force is highly concerned about the case, adding that the violent acts allegedly committed by the officers are unacceptable, especially when they knowingly violated the law.

Asked why the officers were arrested only for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which carries a jail term of only three years, instead of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, which could be punished with life imprisonment, police said the decision was based on the injuries suffered by the victim.

Police promised to seek the opinion of the Department of Justice on what appropriate charges should be filed.

The case has been handed to the Regional Crime Unit of New Territories South for further investigation. Police also appealed to anyone who has any information about the case to contact the police.

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