The trial of 16 Falun Gong practitioners, including 4 Swiss, 1 New Zealander, and 11 from Hong Kong, ended with a guilty verdict at the Western Magistracy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The case related to charges of "obstructing pedestrian traffic" and "assaulting a police officer" outside the Chinese Government Liaison Office on March 14. Seven convictions were announced and fines varying from one thousand three hundred Hong Kong dollars to three thousand eight hundred Hong Kong dollars were imposed. The case attracted international attention, as it was the first instance in which Falun Gong practitioners were found guilty as charged under the penal code. The freedoms of speech and assembly in Hong Kong were placed under scrutiny.

The Hong Kong Secretary for Justice, Ms Elsie Leung Oi-sie, claimed that the prosecution of the 16 Falun Gong practitioners was not politically motivated, but only occurred because the practitioners had broken the law. The Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Hong Kong, Professor Johannes M Chan, criticized the Hong Kong government's recent series of moves against peaceful demonstrations as deliberate acts to restrict the freedom to parade and assemble, which goes against the image of Hong Kong being a free and democratic city. Various public organizations in Hong Kong have also demonstrated against the Hong Kong government. The Falun Gong practitioners have decided to appeal the conviction, counter-charge the police with illegal arrest, and will ask for compensation.

The conviction attracted international interest and gathered extensive media coverage. World societies did not expect the court decision, as previously, such prosecutions had only been used for intimidation. On July 22 the United States Congress adopted a resolution urging China to cease the suppression of Falun Gong. In connection with the Hong Kong decision, the Vice Chairman of the International Relations Committee in the House of Representatives, Mr. Smith, pointed out in his announcement that the Hong Kong judicial decision against the peaceful protest by the Falun Gong practitioners was "not only the only latest example of the persecution of Falun Gong by China, but also an insult to the rule of law in Hong Kong. This is a shameful and barbarous action against the freedom of belief. It demonstrates the dangerous level it has reached and makes everyone uneasy." The deputy spokesperson of the United States State Department, Mr. Reeker, expressed interest in the court decision regarding the case against Falun Gong and pointed out that although Falun Gong is banned in Mainland China, it is still a legally registered group in Hong Kong and therefore has the freedom to organize activities.

In fact, the absurdity of the magistrate's decision is apparent from his speech at the time of conviction. According to reports, the magistrate announced that the evidence provided by the arresting police officers was true and that the video evidence indicated that the accused did indeed violently resist arrest. The arresting police officers were praised in the way they handled the arrests as they used the minimum force in doing so; the police officers had also exercised utmost patience towards the protestors, and so on.

The statement of "violently resisting" is obviously an exaggeration as above all, Falun Gong practitioners have always advocated peaceful protests and are against the use of force.

The magistrate said that the police displayed great sympathy, and proceeded with the "utmost patience" toward the practitioners. This clearly highlights the dubious administration of justice in this case. The police were well aware of the deep-rooted hatred their boss, Jiang Zemin, has for Falun Gong. Would they dare to show sympathy towards Falun Gong? Wouldn't they fear losing their jobs or being thrown in jail themselves? If the police indeed sympathize with Falun Gong, why don't they ask Jiang Zemin to stop the persecution of Falun Gong? That would have avoided the "street obstruction" and "assaulting police," and would have solved all the problems to the satisfaction of all concerned! But the police did not do that. Instead, they accused the practitioners of assaulting them.

The opinion expressed by the magistrate has strong political overtones and indeed damaged the integrity of the administration of the law in Hong Kong.