Two Falun Gong members on trial in Singapore, supporters throng court

Dozens of Falun Gong followers thronged a Singapore court Wednesday in support of two members of the spiritual group who faced charges of unlawful assembly and handing out VCDs without licenses.

The group, banned in China as an "evil cult," is legal here. But members must comply with Singapore's strict rules, which require a police permit for outdoor gatherings of more than four people.

Falun Gong members worldwide often protest Chinese authorities' alleged mistreatment of fellow practitioners.

In Singapore, two women _ Cheng Lu Jin, 37, and Ng Chye Huay, 39 _ face charges of unlawful assembly and handing out VCDs without a license, Subordinate Court documents show. Their nationalities were not given.

Seng Cheng Joo told the court on Tuesday she called police on Feb. 23, 2003 when she saw 10 Falun Gong members handing out flyers, The Straits Times newspaper reported Wednesday.

The trial started Tuesday and continued Wednesday, with Falun Gong supporters packing the public gallery and more waiting outside. Some handed out VCDs about the group and its alleged persecution in China.

A person convicted of unlawful assembly can be fined up to 1,000 Singapore dollars, according to online material from the attorney general's chambers.

Handing out VCDs without a license is punishable by a fine of S$10,000 to S$40,000, and a jail term of up to one year, the attorney general's Web site said.