HONG KONG — Seven Hong Kong police officers were convicted of assault on Tuesday for beating a protester during the pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the city in 2014.
The beating of the demonstrator, Ken Tsang, who had already been subdued and had his hands bound, was caught on video by a television crew. Most of the officers, who were acquitted of a more serious charge, face up to three years in prison. No sentencing date was announced.
The assault, which took place before dawn in October 2014, caused an outcry in Hong Kong and revived flagging public support for the protests, known as the Umbrella Movement. Thousands of demonstrators blocked major streets in the semiautonomous Chinese city for months, in an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for broader public participation in the election of the city’s top official.
In the video, five officers are seen punching, kicking and stomping on Mr. Tsang, as two officers watch. The judge, David Dufton of the District Court of Hong Kong, said that the two defendants identified as the watching officers had played a supporting role in the assault and found them guilty along with the others.
“If a police officer stands by and watches his colleague beat up a suspected person, his failure to intervene is evidence of encouragement to carry out the assault,” Judge Dufton wrote in his ruling.
One of the seven officers was convicted of an additional count of assault, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of one year of prison, for later slapping Mr. Tsang twice at a police station. All seven officers have been suspended from duty since they were arrested.
The officers were acquitted of the more serious offense of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The court found that the injuries to Mr. Tsang did not amount to grievous harm. Mr. Tsang suffered injuries to his face, neck and other parts of his body.
Judge Dufton rejected the arguments by defense lawyers, offered at various points in the trial, that the video could have been doctored, that the man beaten might not have been Mr. Tsang and that the officers in the footage were not their clients.
Before the assault, prosecutors said, the seven officers had singled out Mr. Tsang after he poured an unknown liquid on a different group of officers. Mr. Tsang, 41, was found guilty in May of assaulting police officers and resisting arrest; he is appealing his conviction and a five-week jail sentence.
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