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HK says S Korean lawmakers will not influence protester case
2006-01-09 03:24:04 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HONG KONG, Jan 9 (AP) -- Hong Kong's top legal official warned a delegation of South Korean lawmakers Monday that outside interference would not be tolerated in a case involving 11 Koreans arrested after a WTO riot last month.

The three legislators met briefly with Justice Secretary Wong Yan-lung, who stressed he didn't talk about the details of the case, which continues in court on Wednesday.

"I have listened carefully to their concerns. I did not engage in any discussion or negotiation on the case, although I did explain to them that ... the Department of Justice shall control criminal prosecutions free from any interference," he said.

The arrested Koreans, who are free on bail, were charged with taking part in an illegal assembly, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.

The demonstrators were rounded up after protesters broke through police lines Dec. 17 and tried to storm the World Trade Organization venue.

Many of the protesters who participated in the anti-WTO demonstrations were South Korean farmers who opposed the global trade body for trying to eliminate trade barriers that protected their market from foreign competition.

One of the Korean lawmakers who met with Wong on Monday warned that any delay in the case could hurt Hong Kong-South Korean relations.

"We are concerned that if this court trial is extended, this will have negative effects on the relations between the citizens of Hong Kong and the citizens of Korea as well as bilateral relations," Kwon Young-ghill said.

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