A young woman who suffered a serious eye injury during a violent protest in Hong Kong in August has sought legal help to block a police bid to access her medical reports, the Post has learned.
Two legal sources revealed on Sunday that lawyers had been engaged to deal with the objection, but they declined to disclose any further details.
“To my knowledge, no legal proceedings have begun,” a lawyer familiar with the matter said.
The woman has become one of the main icons of Hong Kong’s protests that have been roiling for almost three months and she has featured on anti-government posters and slogans as a testament to “police brutality”.
Protesters say she was hit by a police beanbag round during a violent showdown in Tsim Sha Tsui on August 11, but the force is not taking the blame pending an investigation, even suggesting she was hit by a projectile from a protester’s catapult.
The injured woman and her family have ignored police efforts to get hold of her medical reports, prompting the force to obtain a search warrant.
In a video recording released in late August, a woman claiming to be the victim, wearing sunglasses, a mask and with her right eye covered by gauze, urged police to stop violent acts against Hong Kong people.
“As a victim of police brutality myself, I hereby issue my strongest condemnation of the force,” she said in the video played during a press conference convened by anti-government protesters.
The woman in the video did not talk about her condition, nor did she mention the cause of her eye injury.
A spokesman for the Hospital Authority said without the patient’s consent, it would not comment on details of a police follow-up.
“We have an established procedure for handling applications for medical records at public hospitals,” he added.
“We urge the injured woman to contact investigating officers and provide information on her injuries,” a police spokesman said.
Opposition lawmaker James To Kun-sun, of the Democratic Party, declined to speculate on the woman’s motives.
“There are many reasons why she may not want her medical reports given to police. She is the victim in the case and if she has not reported it, the police should not have power to get her medical report for investigation,” he said.
“We cannot jump to the conclusion that the victim has intentionally played tricks. She might just want to take more time until she recovers before she contacts police. Or she might simply have no confidence in the force, fearing her information could be leaked to others.
“But that does not mean she is giving up her legal rights. She can still take civil action later to sue for compensation.”
Barrister Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok, chairman of the Beijing-friendly Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, said: “Generally, criminal law requires the victim to be the complainant to start an investigation. If [the woman] does not complain, it is difficult to see how an investigation can carry on.”
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