Trial Continues After Defense Lawyers Leave the Courtroom
(Minghui.org) A second court trial for practitioners Ms. Liu Yanhua and Ms. Wu Wenjin commenced at 2:00 p.m. on October 22, 2013, without the presence of their three defense lawyers. Ms. Liu and Ms. Wu's relatives were very angry that the court officials acted in such an unfair manner.
Defense lawyer Chu Yukun was unable to make it to the court on time, as his flight was delayed due to heavy fog. The two other lawyers then tried to contact Li Yongsheng, the presiding judge, to postpone the trial for a couple of days. However, he did not answer the calls. They then went to the court at 11:00 a.m. to see judge Li. The clerk told the lawyers that Li was not there. The clerk later informed them that he was in Huang Yingling's (the court president) office, but would not see anyone.
When the defense lawyers and the practitioners' family members went to the court in the afternoon to request that the hearing be postponed, they were shocked to find out that the court session had already begun at 2 p.m..
Ms. Liu Yanhua had refused to answer any questions from the prosecution because her lawyers were not present. Cai Yongxiao, the public prosecutor, told Ms. Liu that they were not going to show up. Ms. Liu replied, “I don't believe you. My lawyers will definitely be here.” Just as she was saying this, defense lawyers Zhao and Jiang entered the court room.
Zhao apologized for being late, and said: “The flights were delayed due to the heavy fog. Chu's flight has just landed, so he should be here very soon.” As Huang Yingling, the presiding judge, was telling Zhao that they would only wait 30 minutes before proceeding, Chu arrived at the court.
Lawyer Jiang asked the judge, “Did you begin the trial without us?” Judge Huang then replied: “Let's not discuss this anymore. Please let the prosecutor proceed.” The prosecutor said that they were filing criminal charges against Ms. Liu according to Article No. 300 of the Constitution. When Ms. Liu mentioned that she did not know about this article and asked him to recite it for her, the prosecutor replied angrily, “I cannot recite it for you. Ask your lawyer to recite it.”
Judge Huang and the prosecutor would not allow any of the lawyers or the defendants to speak. When a defense lawyer raised his hand to speak, the prosecutor pretended that he didn't see him. Ms. Liu then said, “My lawyer wants to say something. I cannot answer your question.” The prosecutor replied, “The presiding judge is the one who decides whether or not your lawyer can speak.” Under these unfair circumstances, the three defense lawyers decided to leave the courtroom. Lawyer Zhao Yonglin said to the prosecutor, “Everything that has happened here today has been videotaped. I will sue you, because you are not being fair to us or the defendants.”
After the three defense lawyers left the court, they immediately filed a complaint to the Intermediate People's Court and City Procuratorate Appeals Division. The trial continued for another half an hour without the defense lawyers being present and was adjourned at 3 p.m.. The prosecutor recommended that the court sentence the two women to between eight and ten years in prison. Judge Huang said they will be notified of the verdict in due course.
Events leading up to the second trial
Ms. Liu Yanhua and Ms. Wu Wenjin from the Yichun District of Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province were arrested by officers from Hongsheng Police Station at the Hongjiang Market on the afternoon of May 17, 2013. They were held in Yichun Detention Center. Their case was submitted to the court on July 15, 2013.
Ms. Liu and Ms. Wu's family members hired three lawyers from Beijing to defend them. The police, under the control of the 610 Office, interfered with the lawyers many times, and prevented them from meeting with their clients.
After strong demands from the lawyers and the practitioners' family members, the lawyers were finally allowed to meet with their clients.
The lawyers agreed to submit “not-guilty” pleas for Ms. Liu and Ms. Wu. During the meeting between the practitioners and their lawyers, guards at the detention center monitored them and made a video recording of what was said.
The first trial was held in the Yichun District Court on September 10, 2013. After the opening remarks, and during the identification verification process, the presiding judge did not ask the public prosecutor for identification. The defense immediately pointed out that the judge was not following protocol.
Ms. Wu and Ms. Liu were brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and their feet were shackled. When lawyer Zhao Yonglin pointed out that they were not criminals, the presiding judge stated that the detention center personnel had put the women in shackles and handcuffs. The defense emphasized repeatedly that Ms. Wu and Ms. Liu were in a courtroom, not a detention center. The judge then adjourned the proceedings while the detention center personnel were sent back to the detention center to fetch the keys for the handcuffs and shackles. Ms. Wu and Ms. Liu were then freed from them.
During the trial, the defense lawyers repeatedly pointed out that the trial violated "criminal procedure law," and requested the withdrawal of the presiding judge and the public prosecutor. The presiding judge and public prosecutor turned down their requests. A defense lawyer then asked the judge, “We requested the withdrawal of the public prosecutor. Who has the right to refuse this request?” The judge replied that the chief procurator could evaluate it. The judge then announced an adjournment.
When the trial reconvened, the court president read a document stating that after reviewing the situation it was deemed that the presiding judge and the public prosecutor had not violated the law and should continue to be present in this case. The only person replaced was a judge on the collegial panel. The trial then continued.
Lawyer Zhao Yonglin informed the court that a series of violations had taken place in the court proceedings, including:
1. As the new judge on the collegial panel had just taken over, he needed time to become familiar with the case and review the details.
2. The court should have provided the list of charges to the defense lawyers ten days before the trial commenced. Lawyer Zhao Yonglin did not receive the list until the day of the trial.
3. The defendants, Ms. Wu Wenjin and Ms. Liu Yanhua, should have received the list of charges three days before the trial, but they acquired the list on the morning of the trial.
The presiding judge had no comments to make to the accusations and reluctantly adjourned the trial. The trial was set to reconvene on September 24, 2013.
Prior to the trial, the presiding judge of the criminal court asked the lawyers to join him for a “pre-hearing meeting.” The lawyers refused to attend, and the trial was adjourned.
“Court Violations Cause Adjournment of Trial” http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2013/10/18/142799.html