By VERNA YU, Associated Press Writer
HONG KONG - A lawyer for Falun Gong followers suggested Tuesday that police blocked more space outside the Chinese government liaison office here than protesters who are on trial for public obstruction.
Sixteen Falun Gong adherents including four Swiss are in court facing the first criminal charges Hong Kong has brought against members of the meditation [group].
Defence lawyer John Haynes noted that after the Falun Gong followers were removed from the protest scene in a scuffle on March 14, police barricaded the area and took up more space than the demonstrators had.
Haynes was cross-examining a police officer who videotaped the incident, but the officer, Lam Hung-kuen, responded that he did not remember how much space was taken up by the police barricades because he had been too busy filming things.
The trial entered its second day with a prosecutor showing a videotape of the demonstration.
The case has raised concern that Hong Kong is clamping down on freedom of expression and other rights guaranteed when the former British colony was handed back to China five years ago. [ ]
Prosecutor Robert Lee showed a police video Tuesday to try to prove that the demonstrators were causing a public obstruction.
Lee had said earlier that visitors to the Chinese office were forced to walk around the Falun Gong followers to enter, but that was not apparent from video that was shown on Tuesday.
The prosecutor also argued that the demonstrators created a potential obstruction by hoisting a banner urging Beijing to stop killing followers in the mainland.
Falun Gong claims that hundreds of followers have died in police custody under a crackdown by mainland Chinese authorities. Hong Kong, whose citizens were guaranteed freedoms for 50 years under arrangements for the territory's reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, is the scene of frequent protests by members of the [group].
The demonstration that led to the arrests in Hong Kong was held after the four Swiss followers had been denied permission to visit Beijing to protest there.
The defendants argue that their peaceful protest cannot have been illegal.
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