Judge questions whether Falun Gong caused undue obstruction

Judge questions whether Falun Gong protesters actually caused undue obstruction

HONG KONG (AP) — A judge questioned Friday whether 16 Falun Gong practitioners convicted for public obstruction after a protest outside Chinese government offices had indeed blocked its entrance excessively — or if police barricades did.

On the final day of the three-day appeal, High Court Judge Frank Stock raised the possibility that the demonstrators “were not causing an appreciable or unreasonable obstruction.”

Instead, police barricades may have given the impression of obstructing the entrance, he said.

The demonstrators were protesting China’s suppression of the meditation group outside the Chinese government’s liaison office last March.

Banned as an “evil cult” in the mainland, Falun Gong is allowed to practice freely in Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

But Falun Gong fears the current legal case — the first time followers here have been criminally prosecuted — suggests its days in Hong Kong may be numbered.

Also on Friday, prosecutor Kevin Zervos said the protesters slowed cars down and prevented dozens of workers from using the main entrance, citing testimony from a security guard.

Judge Stock said the staffers might have been leery of the protesters, rather than physically blocked from the building. Based on witnesses’ statements, “they didn’t like Falun Gong,” he said.

Nine of the protesters, including a New Zealander, were also convicted of obstructing police. Three Hong Kong protesters were convicted of assaulting police in a scuffle that broke out when officers removed them. Those charges are also being appealed.

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Sep. 5, 2003
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday September 5, 2003.
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