Police threatened an 18-year-old woman with arrest, reportedly for lying, after she accused Hong Kong police officers of raping her at the height of last year’s protests.
According to the police, the woman has departed Hong Kong and is now considered a wanted fugitive.
The woman, referred to as “Ms. X” in media reports to protect her identity, filed a complaint in October charging that she was gang-raped by police officers at the Tsuen Wan police station on September 27.
According to contemporaneous media accounts, Ms. X was not involved with the protests and was not wearing the kind of black clothing that might have caused the police to mistake her for a protester. She alleged that she was nevertheless detained as she was walking past the police station, brought inside, and assaulted by four masked men.
Ms. X later discovered she was pregnant during a hospital visit and had an abortion, allowing a DNA sample to be taken from the fetus in hope that it could be used to identify her assailants. Several people at the hospital have confirmed her visit, her pregnancy, and the abortion.
Police officials initially claimed they did not receive a report of a sexual assault on September 27, although they later said the woman filed a report with them in late October.
In November, the police used a search warrant to seize a great deal of Ms. X’s medical history, including records from before the alleged sexual assault as well as closed-circuit TV footage of her visits to the doctor. She went to court over the invasion of her privacy, while the police announced she was under investigation for making false accusations. In April, the police said they had uncovered video footage that cast doubt upon her gang rape allegations.
Speaking through her lawyers, Ms. X said she was never given a chance to dispute the evidence that supposedly contradicted her claims, and she objected to police commissioner Chris Tang’s accusations that she is lying about the assault.
“I learned from media reports that the Commissioner has publicly said that I am facing arrest for ‘making a false statement.’ He again chose to do so publicly, in a manner which any objective observer would be driven to conclude was directed at discrediting me,” her statement read.
“I hoped and prayed that the complaint would be investigated impartially, in strict confidence and with respect for my privacy and dignity. None of that has happened,” she said.
Ms. X’s legal team has complained all year of police actions that appear intended to “publicly discredit her, publicly undermine her complaint and diminish any prospect of a successful prosecution.”
“Ms. X further believes that the actions of the police during the course of this supposedly confidential investigation evidences the lack of impartiality of this investigation by the police and displays a total disregard for her privacy and dignity as a criminal complainant and victim of rape,” her lawyers said in January, further accusing the authorities of selectively leaking details of the investigation to the press in a bid to damage her credibility. The lawyers said their client was not told her complaint had been dismissed as false until after the media was.
On Tuesday, Tang said prosecutors have concluded Ms. X was lying when she accused the police of raping her.
“The Department of Justice has instructed us to arrest her on suspicion of providing a false statement,” Tang said, adding the police were unable to do so because she has “absconded.”
Ms. X’s lawyers responded by stating that they, and their client, still have not been allowed to see the evidence that supposedly led prosecutors to drop her case.