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Hong Kong anti-WTO activists hearing deferred
By Teddy Ng (China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2005-12-31 15:44

The hearing of 14 anti-WTO protesters, arrested during the December 17 violence in Wan Chai, has been adjourned to January 11 because more time is needed for further investigation and completion of the identification process.

The Kwun Tong Magistracy Friday released the protesters, charged with unlawful assembly, on a bail of HK$2,500 each. But Taiwanese defendant Lee Chien-cheng had to deposit HK$100,000 to ensure that he returned to Hong Kong for the trial. Lee told the court that he had to return to Taiwan to prepare for an exam.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution John Reading, SC, told Principal Magistrate Garry Tallentire that a lot of people and defendants were involved in the case, and the prosecution needed more time for further investigation and to complete the identification process.

Defence lawyer Martin Lee, SC, said the prosecution and defendants disagreed on facts and that they needed more time for clarification.

Families, friends and supporters of the defendants demonstrated inside and outside the court Friday, demanding that they be released.

Some of them even shouted "Release Now" both in English and Cantonese in the courtroom immediately after the end of the proceedings. They also posted signatures collected in support of the defendants on the court building.

About 1,000 protesters were rounded up that fateful night, but most were released soon.

About 50 protesters gathered in Central on Thursday, shouting slogans and singing mass songs in support of the defendants.

Some of them displayed placards, demanding the release of their husbands or fathers or sons before the New Year. They have submitted a letter to Chief Executive Donald Tsang, pleading for their release.

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