Lawmakers raise concerns over death in police custody
Politicians are doubtful over the circumstances describing how the suspect harmed himself
Hong Kong lawmakers are concerned about the circumstances surrounding the death of a 48-year-old man in police custody on Thursday after he was arrested over a rape and robbery case in Kowloon Bay last Sunday.
The jobless man was accused of raping a 22-year-old woman at the footbridge on Kwun Tong Road and taking away her mobile phone, bank and credit cards. Police caught him as he tried to withdraw money with the victim’s bank card.
The suspect, surnamed Lam, was discovered hanging and unconscious around 9am the day after he was arrested, RTHK reported. He was sent to the United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong, where he was pronounced dead.
Media reports said on Friday that the suspect, surnamed Lam, had used an ethernet cable to hang himself in one of the detention cells in Sau Mau Ping Police Station on Thursday morning.
Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, a Civic Party legislator, was quoted as saying in an Apple Daily report that Lam should have been thoroughly searched and any suspicious items removed.
When a person was placed into custody, duty officers usually checked the cells every 25 minutes, making any possible suicide difficult, he said.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said Lam should not have been able to hang himself as the cell was 15 feet high and had no ceiling beams.
At 3am, six hours before Lam’s body was found, the fire sprinkler on the ceiling of the cell was reportedly damaged. The Fire Services Department confirmed that it was listed as a false alarm.
To said the officers should have been alert to any suspicious events.
Lam was the third case in three years of a case of suspected suicide in detention, Apple Daily reported. The previous cases were at Western and North Point police stations.
At present, there are no closed-circuit television cameras installed in detention cells over privacy concerns.
Lo Wai-chung, Commissioner of the Police, said he had appointed a senior officer from another district to investigate Lam’s death at Sau Mau Ping Police Station.