Falun Gong members want to delay paying fines for obstruction

Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2002-08-19
http://– BROKEN URL yellowbrix.com -/pages/newsreal/Story.nsp?story_id=32252368

HONG KONG (AP) — Sixteen Falun Gong followers convicted of public obstruction during a protest against China’s crackdown on the group said Monday they want to avoid paying their fines while the case is under appeal.

Falun Gong spokeswoman Sharon Xu said the defendants filed papers Monday seeking the delay as a matter of principle.

“The verdict is grossly unfair and biased,” Xu said by telephone.

Magistrate Symon Wong convicted the Falun Gong followers — including four Swiss and one New Zealand citizen — on Thursday in Hong Kong’s first-ever criminal trial against members of the meditation group.

Wong fined the defendants between 1,300 Hong Kong dollars (U.S. dlrs 167) and 3,800 Hong Kong dollars (U.S. dlrs 487) but nobody got any jail time.

The Falun Gong followers were found guilty of public obstruction and of acting in a way that might cause an obstruction during a protest March 14 outside the Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong.

Nine of the defendants were convicted of the more serious charge of obstructing police who stopped the demonstration after repeatedly warning the Falun Gong followers to move several steps away from directly in front of the office. Three were convicted of assaulting the police in scuffling that broke out.

They have already lodged an appeal, and Falun Gong said it is weighing the option of taking legal action against Hong Kong or Chinese officials for what they view as wrongful arrests and an improper prosecution. Falun Gong said it planned a news conference later Monday to discuss its strategy.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday August 20, 2002.
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