Police in Hong Kong found guilty of assaulting protestor | News | DW | 14.02.2017
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Police in Hong Kong found guilty of assaulting protestor

Seven officers have been found guilty of causing bodily harm to social worker Kenneth Tsang, a prominent pro-democracy advocate. Footage of the attack sparked outrage around the world during 2014's massive protests.

Seven police officers in Hong Kong were found guilty on Tuesday of assaulting an activist during the territory's 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations. The charges carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Footage of the attack went viral, showing police officers kicking Kenneth Tsang, a prominent pro-democracy advocate. One officer was seen beating the social worker with his baton. The video not only prompted a global outcry but shook the usually solid trust Hong Kong residents have in their local police.

The officers were acquitted of the more serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm. Judge David Dufton added in a press statement on the ruling that "every police officer has a duty to prevent the commission of a crime, even by fellow police officers."

Police slammed for protestor treatment

In September 2014, protestors took to the streets of Hong Kong for 79 days straight after Beijing announced it would have to approve the candidates for the territory's local elections. In what later became known as the Umbrella Movement for its ubiquitous yellow umbrellas, pro-democracy demonstrators occupied several important squares and blocked streets leading to government buildings.

In the aftermath, local police received hefty criticism for their sometimes harsh handling of protestors.

A lawyer for the defendants said that the protests had dealt a blow to police morale, and pointed out that a number of officers had been injured in scuffles during that time as well.

"Human frailty resulted in the transgression of seven devoted police officers," said attorney Lawrence Lok.

The victim Kenneth Tsang was sentenced to five weeks in prison last year after being found guilty of assaulting officers. He has said he will appeal the verdict. The seven officers convicted of his beating have been remanded in custody pending their sentencing on Friday.

es/jm (AFP, dpa)

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