A car owner who won an acquittal last year when a magistrate ruled that a traffic law breached the right to silence was convicted after a retrial yesterday. In the retrial at Kowloon City Court, after another magistrate acquitted the man of failing to give information on demand, Magistrate Hui Chun-sing found Richard Latker, an American journalist, guilty of the charge. Hui fined Latker HK$5,000. Latker said after the ruling: 'We've lost the right to silence.' The government could simply declare, rather than having to prove, the need to abridge the right to silence. The ruling was very troubling, he said. However, he added that the conviction was not unexpected, and he was considering whether to appeal. Latker said the sentence was clearly punitive, noting that usually those convicted of the same charge would be fined a lower amount. He said he thought his fine was intended to send a message to the community not to pursue their cases in court. Hui gave his reasons in writing, but a copy of this was not available to the media. Latker's case dates to July 2007, when a police camera caught his car running a red light. When police asked Latker to identify the driver, he declined. The original trial magistrate at Kowloon Court, David Thomas, acquitted him last year in a landmark ruling. He said the power vested in the police by Section 63 of the Road Traffic Ordinance - which Latker was accused of infringing - was draconian and a breach of a person's right to silence. Thomas agreed that forcing drivers to hand over personal information under threat of jail was the equivalent of a forced confession, which breached Latker's right to a fair trial. But prosecutors appealed to the Court of Appeal, which earlier this year sent the case back to the court for a retrial under another magistrate. The prosecution yesterday asked that Hui order Latker to pay partial court costs, but the magistrate denied the request.