Hong Kong police are under fire with claims officers arrested a protester under false pretenses – by putting a large rod into his backpack after he was apprehended during the clearout of a street protest in Causeway Bay on Sunday.
Police have denied wrongdoing, but footage of the incident – captured by local broadcaster nowTV – shows police officers apparently planting the rod in the arrested man backpack while he was being held.
The protester, wearing a white T-shirt, is seen having his hands tied behind his back after being subdued on the ground. The footage shows his black backpack being opened.
When a police officer standing to the left of the protester gives him a warning, another officer is seen picking up the rod and placing it in the arrested man’s backpack.
The protester told a reporter at the scene: “Reporter, please help me, the police put a stick into my backpack” before he was escorted to a police vehicle.
Son has brain injury after ‘bashing’
The father of the arrested man told Asia Times that his son is still being detained by police. His mother posted on Facebook a claim that police allegedly beat her son – causing him to suffer a cerebral hemorrhage.
The protester is now at North District Hospital in Tuen Mun, Apple Daily reported.
Speaking at the daily press conference on Tuesday, Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, denied that the arrested man was framed for carrying a weapon.
Li said according to evidence collected by officers at the scene, the man was holding the stick and tried to use it to resist police before he was subdued. The stick was left on the road.
He conceded that the way the officer put the stick in the man’s backpack was “not perfect”, saying it was acceptable and could have been done better, but the scene was chaotic at the moment the man was detained.
However, Li said he could not disclose more information about the case. He claimed the officer later put the stick into his backpack.
In regard to the claim by the arrested man’s family over his injuries, Li said he didn’t know about that. They only knew what was in statements collected from officers and other evidence.
On Monday, police said they had arrested 15 “core” radical protesters in Causeway Bay. A group of men dressed exactly like the protesters helped police to subdue people who were blocking Hennessy Road.
Police admitted that a “decoy operation” had been undertaken, with undercover police among the protesters to collect intelligence. But they refused to disclose if they dressed like the protesters or give any other details.
UN backs call for probe
Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a former member of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), has called on the force to carry out a criminal inquiry into what he believes may be illegal acts carried out by some officers during recent anti-extradition protests, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
Cheung said he saw several incidents over the past few weeks in which officers may have committed criminal offenses.
“For example, the incident that involved the suspected planting of evidence against the accused – that would amount to a criminal offense of perverting the course of justice. That would justify a criminal investigation. And for other situations like after subduing the suspect, we have seen police officers still use unnecessary force to hit and harm the arrested person. Again, that would involve a criminal investigation,” Cheung said.
The United Nations top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, also urged a “prompt, independent, impartial investigation” into alleged excessive force by police against the protesters, her spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.
Hours earlier, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor refused to set up of a commission of inquiry to look the alleged police brutality. She said the IPCC could handle any such matters.
However, IPCC vice-chairman Tony Tse has said his manpower is stretched and it would be very difficult for the council to submit an investigation report within six months.