An ousted Hong Kong lawmaker was accused in court on Monday of assaulting two police officers after an anti-government rally, leaving one of them with hearing loss in one ear.
Au Nok-hin, 32, is alleged to have caused the injury to Superintendent Ko Chun-pong by using a loudhailer next to him during a stand-off between protesters and police in Yau Ma Tei.
The former pro-democracy politician has denied two counts of assault in the incident during the early hours of July 8, in which he is also accused of assaulting Constable Kwan Chi-ho.
But Au told Kowloon City Court that he was trying to stop officers from causing a stampede by forcing their way through a crowd of journalists on Nathan Road, the day after an estimated 230,000 people took to the streets of Kowloon in protest against the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
The court heard that when officers moved to disperse protesters who gathered on the streets after the rally, they encountered Au and lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho near Dundas Street and Hamilton Street. More than 20 reporters were also gathered at the scene.
In a heated altercation, Au allegedly assaulted Kwan by hitting his shield three times using a microphone. Minutes later, he allegedly caused Ko to suffer acute hearing loss in his right ear by speaking through a loudhailer next to him.
Au, who was disqualified last September by the High Court following a successful election petition by his pro-democracy ally Agnes Chow Ting, was the first lawmaker to be charged over the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked Hong Kong since June last year.
Prosecutors initially applied to anonymise Kwan and Ko, as AAA and EEE respectively, citing fears of online doxxing and harassment. They later dropped the application as unnecessary.
Au's lawyer, Robert Pang Yiu-hung SC, argued his client had asked officers to stop, as he feared their procession might risk a stampede given the large number of journalists at the scene.
But officers who testified before Magistrate Leung Ka-kie said it was the two officials who caused the confusion and heightened the risk of casualties.
In police footage of the altercation, Au shouted "damn rogue cops" and other curses at officers, as he repeatedly demanded they stop advancing.
Kwan, who was standing in front of Au, told the court he felt targeted by Au's repeated yelling and feared he would resort to more violent means.
"I felt scared," Kwan said. "I didn't imagine that he, a lawmaker at that time, would have done such things. I was dumbfounded by his reactions."
He reiterated that it was the commanding officer's order that he march forward, and he also dismissed defence allegations he had bashed the defendant with his shield, before Au retaliated.
Senior Inspector Lau Ka-sing, the commanding officer at the scene, said he issued the order after the two lawmakers and dozens of journalists ignored repeated warnings to leave. He said they had sufficient room to step back, but refused to do so.
He stressed that while officers were required to respect journalistic rights, the media were not special and should obey the law.
"I think police can use appropriate force to disperse them," Lau said, when prosecutor Vivien Chan Man-wai asked if he thought journalists were obstructing officers.
The trial is expected to last three days.
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