A protester and police both face serious charges a year after Hong Kong’s Occupy movement

Hong Kong’s Occupy movement, which shut down the city center for several weeks last year, was marked by several violent clashes between police, protesters, and pro-Beijing groups—but the most brutal was a police attack on activist and Civic Party member Kenneth Tsang.

On Oct. 14 of last year, Tsang reportedly poured a liquid substance on police, and was taken into a dark corner by seven policemen and beaten. The latter incident that was clearly captured on video.

Today (Oct. 15) the seven police involved in Tsang’s beating were charged with intent to cause grievous harm—a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Tsang, too, will face charges, he said. He told Hong Kong’s Commercial Radio station (link in Chinese) this morning that police informed him he will be arrested, and charged with one count of police assault and four counts of obstruction of police. The South China Morning Post reports that it is “understood” that Tsang “will be charged with one count of assaulting police and four counts of resisting police arrest when he goes to the police station.”

The incident last year raised questions about Hong Kong’s famed “rule of law” and whether a police force that has famously transformed itself from a cripplingly corrupt entity to one of the most effective police forces in the world was now taking cues from its brutal and secretive counterpart in mainland China. It also illustrated how polarized opinion remains in Hong Kong in the aftermath of the protests. Policeman’s unions have raised HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) from the public and other officers for their colleagues affected by the Occupy protests, most of which is expected to go to the seven officers involved in the Tsang incident. But activists have staged protests

Tsang told the radio program he was “stunned” to hear he would be arrested for the incident. Conviction for assaulting a police officer results in a two-year prison term, according to Hong Kong law (pdf).

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