A Hong Kong court has acquitted the last of 14 anti-globalization protesters accused of attacking police during the World Trade Organization meetings in the city last year.
South Korean farmer Yun Il-kwon emerged from a Hong Kong court Thursday with a broad smile. He said he is relieved that his legal ordeal is finally over and thanked the people of Hong Kong for their support.
The ruling Thursday ends a three-month legal battle between the Hong Kong government and a group of protesters arrested after clashing with Hong Kong police during the World Trade Organization's conference in December.
Around one thousand protesters were rounded up, most of them South Korean farmers, after they rioted and attempted to force their way into the W.T.O.'s main meeting hall. The protesters had vowed to prevent the organization from reaching an agreement on liberalizing world trade.
Most of those arrested were later released, but 14 were charged with illegal assembly. Hong Kong courts eventually dismissed the charges against 13 protesters citing lack of evidence. Yun was the last to be released.
Elizabeth Tang, head of the local organizing group for the anti-W.T.O. protests (Hong Kong People's Alliance Against the W.T.O.), says the police had weak evidence against the protesters and did not follow proper procedure in their investigation. She said they have wasted people's money and time.
Hong Kong is unaccustomed to unruly protests. No one died during the demonstration on December 17 but it ranked among the worst street violence this city has experienced since the 1960s.