AP, Aug. 15, 2002
The Associated Press HONG KONG (AP) — Sixteen Falun Gong followers were convicted Thursday of causing an obstruction in a protest outside the Chinese government’s liaison office here, in a case that rights activists are watching as a potential threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms.
It was the first time Hong Kong had brought criminal charges against members of Falun Gong, which is outlawed as an “evil cult” in mainland China but remains legal in this former British colony. Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.
Magistrate Symon Wong convicted all of the defendants, including four Swiss and one New Zealand citizen, of two counts: causing a public obstruction and acting in a way that could cause a public obstruction.
Nine of the defendants, all of them Hong Kong Chinese, were convicted of the more serious charge of obstructing the police who broke up the demonstration on March 14. Three of those people were also convicted of assaulting a police officer.
The Falun Gong followers showed little emotion and said nothing as Wong read out the verdicts in the Western Magistracy, ending a trial that had begun in June.
Wong did not immediately say when he would impose sentences.