Hong Kong pro-democracy activist faces legal battle with police

Activist Ken Tsang's 2014 beating by Hong Kong police during the city's pro-democracy protests was captured on video and raised questions about the conduct of the force
Activist Ken Tsang's 2014 beating by Hong Kong police during the city's pro-democracy protests was captured on video and raised questions about the conduct of the force

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    Activist Ken Tsang's 2014 beating by Hong Kong police during the city's pro-democracy protests was captured on video and raised questions about the conduct of the force

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Activist Ken Tsang's 2014 beating by Hong Kong police during the city's pro-democracy protests was captured on video and raised questions about the conduct of the force 02:16

Story highlights

  • Seven Hong Kong police officers have been charged with beating activist Ken Tsang
  • Tsang was himself charged on the same day with assaulting an officer with a liquid
  • Both the alleged incidents happened during Hong Kong's 2014 pro-democracy protests

(CNN)A prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist appeared in a local court Monday along with seven police officers who have been charged with beating him.

Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, a member of Hong Kong's pro-democracy Civic Party, was allegedly beaten by the police officers on the night of October 15, 2014 during pro-democracy protests that were dubbed the "Umbrella Movement."
    In a surprise move, both Tsang and the police officers were charged in the case on Thursday. The seven officers were charged with "intent to cause grievous bodily harm" by Hong Kong police.
    On Monday, both cases were adjourned.
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    Tsang was charged with assaulting police officers and faces four counts of resisting officers who went to arrest him. None of the officers he is charged with assaulting are the seven who allegedly beat him.
    Tsang called the charges politically motivated.
    "The government is politically persecuting (me) using different administrative channels. Turning the claimant into a defendant," he told reporters Thursday.
    Rimsky Yuen, the Secretary of Justice, however, reiterated that the charges were not political decisions and both cases were handled in accordance with the law.
    Tsang looks on as supporters lay candles at the spot where he was allegedly beaten by police in Hong Kong on late October 14, 2015.
    Tsang's beating at the hands of police officers during Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests was captured on video and caused widespread condemnation of police behavior in the city after it was aired on local TV station TVB.
    Tsang, who was unarmed at the time, was hospitalized after the incident and sustained serious bruising.
    It took one year to the day of the attacks for the seven police officers involved - all of whom have been suspended from duty since the incident - to be formally charged.

    Hong Kong police integrity under scrutiny

    The charges come on the back of a string of cases involving police officers in Hong Kong this year, including a widely-ridiculed case where a woman was sentenced to jail for three and a half months for assaulting a police officer with her breast.
    Ken Tsang sought a review of his stalled case against the police at Hong Kong's high court of justice on April 17, 2015.
    Respected lawyer and University of Hong Kong academic, Eric Cheung Tat-ming, said Tsang's case has further deepened concerns about the independence and honesty of the city's police force.
    "There have been quite a number of court cases where the magistrates have expressed that the police officers either were lying or not telling the truth to the court and then the evidence given by the police officers contradicted the video footage gathered by the defense," said Cheung.
    "All this I think would appear to damage the image of the (Hong Kong) police force, although to be fair, I think in Hong Kong we still have a rather open and transparent court system."

    Tsang to face court with officers

    The Secretary of Justice has indicated that prosecutors will apply to have the case heard in the District Court.
    Although the charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in Hong Kong, the District Court can only hand out a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.