Hong Kong police officers sentenced to prison in beating of activist

Seven Hong Kong police officers have been sentenced to two years in prison for assaulting a pro-democracy activist at the height of 2014 protests.

Judge decries 'vicious' assault of activist Ken Tsang in 2014

In this Feb. 14, 2017 file photo, five of the seven Hong Kong police officers arrive at the District Court in Hong Kong as they were charged with assaulting a pro-democracy activist in an incident on Oct. 15 2014. The seven were sentenced Friday to two years in prison for assaulting a pro-democracy activist at the height of 2014 protests. (Kin Cheung/The Associated Press)

Seven Hong Kong police officers were sentenced Friday to two years in prison for assaulting a pro-democracy activist at the height of 2014 protests, in an attack that was caught on film by TV news cameras.

The video of officers beating up Ken Tsang in a dark corner of a park stoked outrage among residents of the semiautonomous Chinese financial hub and further fueled the protests against Beijing's plan to restrict elections.

District Court Judge David Dufton said in his sentencing remarks that prison time was appropriate because it was a serious case. He said Ken Tsang was defenceless, with his hands bound behind his back by plastic ties, when officers subjected him to a "vicious assault" in which he was "stamped on and repeatedly kicked."

"The defendants have not only brought dishonour to the Hong Kong police force, they have also damaged Hong Kong's reputation in the international community, the assault having been widely viewed around the world and reported as front-page news in a number of countries," Dufton said.

Ken Tsang, a member of a local pro-democracy political party is shown recovering at a hospital on Oct. 15, 2014. Footage of his run-in with police went viral. (The Associated Press)

The incident occurred as protesters scuffled with police in the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 15, 2014, for control of an underpass outside government headquarters. News cameras caught officers carrying Tsang away and assaulting him behind a building in a nearby park.

Tsang himself was convicted last year of assaulting police and resisting arrest in relation to the incident. Dufton found the officers guilty earlier this week on charges of assault occasioning bodily harm.

Dufton said Tsang's conviction and the immense stress officers faced during the Umbrella Movement protests, which brought parts of the city to a standstill for 11 weeks, were no justification for the assault.

One officer, who was convicted on a separate count of common assault for slapping Tsang at a police station, was given a one-month sentence, to be served concurrently.