But judge rejects 19 cases and allegations of coercion by immigration officers A judge yesterday found three more mainlanders qualified for right of abode in Hong Kong under the Court of Final Appeal judgment in January last year. In a 143-page report, Mr Justice Michael Hartmann ruled in favour of three out of the 22 applicants whose claims the director of immigration had a record of, in accordance with a government policy. The other 19 claimants lost because their cases did not fall within the parameters of the concession made by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa on June 26, 1999 - namely that they failed to lodge an abode claim with an immigration officer or there was no such record. The 22 applicants were among 5,114 abode-seekers involved in the top court's decision on January 10 last year, which ruled against most of the claimants. The Court of Final Appeal ruled then that mainlanders were entitled to permanent residency if they were in Hong Kong between July 1, 1997, and January 29, 1999 - the date of another top court judgment in favour of abode-seekers. They must also have made an abode claim to an immigration officer, of which a record was made. Lawyers for the 22 applicants had submitted that they had all made claims to the department but that officers had failed to record their claims. They added the claimants had been made to write down answers dictated by the officers on immigration forms. Mr Justice Hartmann said the 'obstinate denial' of all the interviewing officers to use 'standard form' answers caused him great concern and questioned whether it was an attempt to disguise concerted efforts by the officers to prevent the applicants from recording that they wished to seek right of abode. But the judge dismissed allegations of coercion. 'I was satisfied that while a good many applicants did have answers suggested to them, they were not wrongfully pressured into recording only those suggested answers,' he said. 'I am satisfied that in each case if an applicant had wished to add to or supplement a suggested answer or write something else entirely, they would have been free to do so.' Solicitor Peter Barnes said the successful claimants did not automatically qualify for abode as the government could appeal. He also did not rule out the possibility that the losing claimants may appeal.