South China Morning Post: Officers Under Fire in Falun Gong Case

08/08/2002

The footpath where Falun Gong protesters were arrested for obstruction outside the Beijing Liaison Office in Connaught Road was wide enough to stage a mini-concert or park six cars, a court was told yesterday.

Police were also accused of undermining their case as the barriers they erected after the arrests on March 14 took up four times the space the protesters had occupied.

Barrister John Haynes, representing some of the 16 Falun Gong members [Editor's note: Falun Gong does not have membership] accused of blocking the office entrance in Western, said the police kept the barriers up for at least four days after the protesters were arrested.
In his final submission yesterday at Western Court, Mr Haynes said the nine-meter-wide footpath offered "wonderful, big and clear space." He said video footage showed the protesters did not obstruct the office entrance, contrary to police claims.

"The pavement was wide enough for parking six Mercedes or holding a small football game or even a mini-concert," Mr Haynes said.

The 16 Falun Gong members, including four Swiss nationals, each deny one charge of causing an obstruction in a public place and one of committing an act that could obstruct a public place.

Nine local Falun Gong members, all Hong Kong residents, deny a joint charge of obstructing Inspector Ho Ming-yan in a police vehicle at Western police station. Three members also deny one count each of assaulting police officers.

Mr Haynes said police had been "influenced" to clear the footpath because the Beijing Liaison Office had the status of a semi-consulate building.

He accused the office of implementing a "not in my backyard policy".
Mr Haynes said it was alarming that the prosecution had not summoned even a single ordinary pedestrian or bystander to testify whether or not the defendants caused any "potential obstruction".

Instead, he said, the whole prosecution case was based on the views of police and liaison office security guards.

Barrister Paul Harris, representing other defendants, will give his final submission before Magistrate Symon Wong Yu-wing this morning.

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