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Friday, November 14, 2014, 08:44

Marshals’ act not ‘citizen’s arrest’: Barrister

By Timothy Chui in Hong Kong

A legal expert disagreed with the idea that the act of two “Occupy Central” marshals in engaging in a brawl and subduing three men, who allegedly attacked media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying on Wednesday in the Admiralty sit-in area, could be termed a “citizen’s arrest”.

There was a small-scale protest on Thursday over the arrests of the two “Occupiers” who subdued the three men accused of throwing pig offal at Lai, rumored to be a major sponsor of the illegal occupation activities. One of the three was tied up and injured.

Police subsequently arrested “Occupy” protest marshals Alex Kwok Siu-kit and Ricky Or Yiu-lam for fighting in a public place, while the three alleged attackers were also held on suspicion of assault. All five were released on bail.

Demonstrators claimed they were outraged that the “Occupy” protesters were arrested for doing the right thing, but China-Australia Legal Exchange Foundation Barrister Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok disagreed, saying the “Occupy” marshals’ actions set a dangerous precedent which could degenerate into rampant vigilantism.

Ma said justifying the protesters’ actions as a “citizen’s arrest” would not hold water because that right could only be exercised if they helped prevent or apprehend the perpetrators of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison.

"Although Lai may have been the victim of assault there was nothing to suggest it was an act likely to cause grievous bodily harm. The offal would cause an awful smell but one would think it would not cause permanent harm,” Ma said, noting that assault charges would not usually result in imprisonment exceeding a year.

He added that it was also likely the protesters had used excessive force in detaining the alleged offal hurlers, noting multiple bruises, cuts and abrasions on the man who was seen on news footage to have been tied up.
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