Lawyers' Right to Defend Clients Denied by Huanggu District Court in Shenyang City
(Clearwisdom.net) On February 6, 2009, Huanggu District Court in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province commenced a trial for six Falun Gong practitioners. The court obstructed entry to the courtroom by the ten defense lawyers by requesting a "security check." The lawyers refused to cooperate and left the courthouse. The trial went on without the lawyers and adjourned after only two hours.
A Minghui reporter interviewed several of the involved lawyers by telephone. Below is an excerpt from the interviews.
"Security Check" Used as a Pretext to Deprive Lawyers of Their Right to Defend
Wang Yajun from Beijing, one of the ten lawyers, explained the interference they encountered. "When we arrived at the courthouse, deputy court administrator Zhang and the presiding judge summoned us to the conference room, reiterating certain requirements. They told us higher echelons had directed that the accusations against any Falun Gong cases cannot be changed. We replied that we would do what was right according to the law."
Wang Yajun continued and stated that the ten lawyers eventually went to the fifth floor and noticed several policemen holding metal detectors. The police requested that we submit to a security check.
Lawyer Su Shixuan told the reporter, "At that point we showed them the Supreme Court regulation." The regulation Lawyer Su referred to is "Security Check Rule at People's Courts," issued by the Supreme Court in 2004 (No. 14). According to the rule, when conducting a security check, the court police shall "(1) check and record prosecutors and lawyers' IDs; (2) check and record everyone else's IDs, as well as check their bags."
Wang Yajun said, "Normally, they don't body check lawyers. We saw the prosecutor entering without being checked. We felt the court was being unfair with and discriminating against us. It was illegal!"
Lawyer Gao Fengquan from Shenyang added, "That day the court deliberately hindered our entry into the courtroom by requesting a security check, which is a violation of the law."
None of the ten lawyers cooperated with the court's demand for a security check, and they all left in a rage. According to Su Shixuan, the scheduled, full-day trial ended after two hours, without the lawyers' participation. Any trial without the presence of defense attorneys violates stipulated legal procedures.
Judicial Bureau Ordered Lawyers Not to Defend Practitioners Who Plead Innocent
As a matter of fact, the plot depriving lawyers of their right to defend began two days before the trial date. On February 4, all the lawyers received phone calls from Shenyang Judicial Bureau Head Xu Ke and District Judicial Bureau Head Bi, ordering them not to defend the practitioners, who pleaded innocent.
Su Shixuan stated, "Whether or not to defend a client who has pleaded innocent is the lawyer's business. The judicial bureau's request was unreasonable and unconstitutional. If we listened to them, that would be equivalent to giving up our right to a defense."
Nevertheless, none of the lawyers was intimidated by the threats and decided to do what they considered right.
Gao Fengquan added, "I don't think my client has committed any crime." Mr. Gao believed what the judicial bureau did was illegal. He asked, "On what grounds did they order us to defend a guilty plea? It just didn't make any sense!"
Wang Yajun concurred, "The judicial bureau has engaged in illegal activities. Administratively, they are the lawyers' supervisory body; however legal issues should be handled based on facts and laws. We asked them to present written evidence to support their request but they didn't dare to show us anything. They knew very well what they were doing was illegal."
The 610 Office, an Agency Overriding the Court
Before the trial began, deputy head Zhang demanded that the lawyers verbally guarantee security. In order to have an opportunity to defend their clients' legal rights, the lawyers agreed.
Then court head Wang Xi arrived, saying he had asked for instructions from higher-ups. Since this was a very special case, it was decided that the lawyers must also go through a security check, otherwise the trial would begin without them. At that moment, head Zhang changed his mind and said a verbal guarantee was no longer sufficient. The lawyers had to leave disappointed.
The "higher-ups" includes Shenyang Intermediate Court, Liaoning Province High Court, Shenyang Communist Party Committee, and agents from the 610 Office. According to Wang Yajun, "All cases involving Falun Gong are monitored and controlled by the 610 Office."
Falun Gong Practitioners Framed
This was the first time Su Shixuan had handled a Falun Gong-related case. His client was the 81-year-old mother of Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Cai Zongbin. He said the elderly mother came to his office, asking him to defend her son and she wanted to be able to see her son.
Cai Zongbin, 48, lives in the Hongxing Residential Area, Nanshun Road, Shenhe District. He previously worked for the Shenyang Pressure Cooker Factory. Before he began practicing Falun Gong, his typical after-work activities were playing cards, eating out and drinking with friends. After he began cultivation he changed into a different person. He quit smoking and drinking and treated his mother much better. On June 16, 2008, Shenyang Police Department personnel and Yaming Police Station officials worked together to arrest Cai Zongbin. They snatched his keys and ransacked his home. Because he didn't own much of value, the police left his home empty-handed.
Wang Yajun's client was 50-year-old Ms. Liu Gui Feng, whose illnesses disappeared after he began practicing Falun Gong. In order for more people to benefit from Falun Gong, she handed out truth-clarification CDs and brochures. Lawyer Wang said, "Her behavior didn't harm anyone." However, the police used her harmless activities as pretext for her arrest.
Prior to the 2008 Olympics, the authorities arrested more than one hundred practitioners. Ms. Liu Guifeng was arrested on the same day as Ms. Wu Yefeng.
Ms. Wu Yefeng, 44, lives in the Zhengyi Residential Area in the Shenhe District. She became much healthier and kinder after practicing Falun Gong. Someone followed her and police subsequently arrested her on June 15, 2008, taking her to the Shenyang Detention Center. Ms. Wu immediately started a hunger strike to protest, and was force-fed dense salt water. At one point she was in grave danger of dying. On July 23, personnel from the Huganggu District Procuratorate issued an arrest warrant. In order to sentence Wu Yefeng and the other five practitioners to 3-7 years, they ordered the cases be sent back to the police department, to collect additional evidence. Wu Yefeng's current whereabouts remain unknown, which makes her family extremely worried.
Wu Yefeng's lawyer Gao Fengquan believes her to be a kindhearted woman, and believes it's impossible she could commit the crime of interfering with law enforcement.
Righteous Lawyers Battle to Defend People's Rights
Why would the courts make trouble for lawyers defending Falun Gong practitioners? Wang Yajun commented, "I think they wanted to show their power by imposing such injustice upon us before the trial commenced. If we gave in to them, they would then further pressure us in the courtroom, thus achieving their goal of controlling the trial's outcome."
He gave an example to show how lawyers should stand up for what they're entitled to. He once defended another practitioner named Zhong Fangqiong in Sichuan Province. On the opening day of trial at the Wuhou District Court in Chengdu City, the court ordered defending lawyers and audience members to enter from a back door, while the public prosecutor could enter from the front door. Lawyer Wang and other lawyers argued with the court over the unfair treatment. One hour later, all the lawyers were able to enter through the front door.
All the lawyers interviewed expressed their determination to fight for their legal rights. Wang Yajun said, "We have appealed to the National Bar Association and the Beijing Bar Association regarding the unfair treatment meted out by Huanggu District Court officials. Yesterday a representative from the Beijing Bar Association called me, expressing their concerns. We also filed complaints with the Shenyang Intermediate Court, Liaoning Province High Court, the Supreme Court, as well as the People's Congress. We urged them to investigate this incident. We also sent a protest letter to the Huanggu District Court."
He went on, saying, "Belief is a fundamental right protected by the constitution. Today it is Falun Gong practitioners who are treated unfairly; tomorrow it could be people with other beliefs. Protecting other people's rights is protecting one's own rights. I feel there must be someone who stands up for Falun Gong practitioners. As lawyers, it is our job to guard our clients' legal rights."
Lawyer Wang also expressed his great admiration of Lawyer Gao Zhisheng for his outspoken support of Falun Gong practitioners. He said, "Attorney Gao's courage is unprecedented and we need to learn from him."