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“Damage to the legal system when police openly telling lie”- from Chairman of Court Prosecutors Association to SJ and DPP


Editor's note: This is the reproduction of internal email in 2019 from William WF Wong, the then chairman of the Court Prosecutors (Department of Justice) Association, to Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and then Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung SC.

Dear SJ and DPP,

I am asked to send this e-mail in my official capacity of the Association.

I have been asked in my official capacity of the Association to deal with a number of issues about police performance in these few months but I intend to focus only on the captioned subject.

31 August is a sensitive day. 5 years ago on this day, the Authority of China announced the new arrangement of election of Chief Executive that many Hong Kong people find unacceptable.

Police know very well that 31 August is a sensitive day, and on 30 August 2019 they arrested the following 7 public figures:

譚文豪(立法會議員) — arrested on 30 August 2019
區諾軒(立法會議員) — arrested on 30 August 2019
鄭松泰(立法會議員) — arrested on 30 August 2019
黃之鋒(香港眾志秘書長) — arrested on 30 August 2019
周庭(香港眾志成員) — arrested on 30 August 2019
許銳宇(沙田區議員) — arrested on 30 August 2019
孫曉嵐 (港大學生會前會長)— arrested on 30 August 2019

When being queried by the press, police denied openly that they did deliberately make the said 7 arrests immediately before the sensitive day of 31 August. Do you believe what police said? As a matter of common sense, the general public do not. If this is an issue in the trial, no court or reasonable jury properly directed would believe what police said.

There is no dispute that the arrests are lawful. Offenders break the law, police arrest the offenders and we prosecutors prosecute the offenders in court. That is the due legal process that no one will dispute- but why telling lie openly that day of arrest of all the above 7 arrests falling on the same day immediately before 31 August are just an coincidence, bearing in mind the different offences giving rise to the said arrests were committed one or two months well before 31 August?

This is not an isolated incident. It happened repeatedly in the last few months.

I trust that police know that they are telling lies but they may not be aware of the dire consequence in the long run of what they have done in damaging the legal system in Hong Kong, which depends heavily on the integrity of the police.

In many criminal trials, police are crucial PWs (prosecution witnesses)- very significant to the conviction or acquittal of a defendant, and we prosecutors invariably contend that police witnesses are honest and reliable. Also, the admissibility of defendants’ confessions depend on the absence of improper acts of violence, threat and inducement on the part of police witnesses, and we prosecutors invariable contend that police witnesses are honest and reliable, and they did nothing improper against the defendants. Such honesty and reliability will surely be doubted by court and jury in the long run as a result of what police did in the recent few months in the eyes of general public. It is also the prosecutorial ethics that a prosecutor “must not advance submissions in which he does not believe, nor must he conceal material that may assist the accused.”

Prosecutors and police work closely in the criminal justice system. We as prosecutors of DOJ and Hong Kong citizens do not wish to see the Hong Kong Police Force as a whole being heavily criticized as they are now subject to. I trust most police are honest and reliable and do faithfully discharge their important public duty with no use of excessive force.

Saying “no comment due to operational reason” in reply to the questions raised by the press is, albeit far from satisfactory, much better than telling lie openly.

The posts of SJ and DPP assume a special role in upholding and defending the legal system of Hong Kong. DOJ give advice to police. Please advise the police on this important matter of honesty and reliability affecting the legal system of Hong Kong.

Best regards,
William Wong
Chairman
Court Prosecutors (Department of Justice) Association
2 September 2019

P.S. We love Hong Kong. It is sad to see Hong Kong is falling. What happened to the Cathay Pacific will sooner or later happen to DOJ.


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