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The Hong Kong authorities must uphold international standards of fair trials in the two cases involving Ken Tsang Kin Chiu, a protester who was beaten and kicked by seven police officers during the pro-democracy protests last year, said Amnesty International today.

The seven policemen were suspended shortly after the incident and formally charged last Thursday, October 15, exactly a year after the incident. That same day, Ken Tsang was formally arrested and charged as well, for allegedly having assaulted police officers and resisted arrest in an incident that took place about 10 minutes before the beating took place, in what the Hong Kong Department of Justice said was a “different” case.

“The government is trying to draw attention away from this important case of police accountability through what many see as the politically-motivated timing of Ken Tsang’s simultaneous arrest and prosecution” said Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

“The authorities have elected to arrest Ken Tsang on the very day the prosecution against his abusers became public knowledge, without giving any good reasons why.”

Protesters arrested by the police during the pro-democracy protests have repeatedly denounced an apparent pattern of unduly long intervals between initial arrests and the decision to prosecute them or not. This has contributed to an atmosphere of anxiety which, according to many activists, acts as a deterrent to participating in protests.

“The uncertainty faced by protesters about whether they will or not be prosecuted and under what charges has a chilling effect on their ability to fully exercise their right to peaceful assembly,” said Mabel Au.