Standing Up for Justice in Dalian: Lawyers Refuse to Comply with Improper Procedure Ordered by Court
(Minghui.org) The Zhongshan District Court in Dalian planned to resume a hearing of 13 illegally arrested Falun Gong practitioners on July 5, 2013. However, in violation of the “Code of Criminal Procedure” and in total disregard for the defendants' rights, the court gave the practitioners' lawyers very short notice of the court date, and failed to notify the practitioners at all.
The lawyers representing the 13 practitioners refused to comply with such improper procedure and did not go to court that day. Instead, they sued the Zhongshan Court for violation of their defendants' civil rights. Under protest from the lawyers, the Zhongshan District Court presiding judge had to reschedule the hearing.
Supporters and Family Members Beaten and Harassed
The thirteen practitioners were arrested over a year ago during a series of mass arrests in Dalian City.
Prior hearings had been marred by police brutality and harassment of the defendants' supporters. During the hearing on April 12, 2013, the police arrested practitioners who had gathered outside the courthouse and beat one of the lawyers present. During another hearing on June 21, 2013, local practitioners were also arrested, and family members of the defendants were harassed and followed by police.
Making sure that the defendants and their families understood their decision to protest the upcoming trial, the lawyers arrived at Dalian on July 4 to notify the defendants not to comply with the court order and insist on their legal rights.
The Central Politics and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) and the Beijing Ministry of Public Security sent personnel to the July 5 hearing. At 7:00 a.m., the practitioners were brought to the court.
A large number of police and plainclothes officers were stationed at the courthouse, at nearby areas, and at the hotel where the defendants' lawyers were staying. Some family members arrived at the courthouse but were harassed and not allowed inside. Very few family members were in the courtroom, and the gallery was filled with strangers whom the defendants and their families had never seen before.
A Successful Protest
However, it was not business as usual and the sham trial did not proceed. At 10:00 a.m., the presiding judge of the Zhongshan Court made an announcement: “In order to safeguard the rights of the people, the hearing will be changed to another date.”
Earlier, the practitioners' lawyers visited a number of agencies associated with the Department of Public Security to file complaints against the Zhongshan Court. They submitted a proposal titled “Changing court personnel and increasing the civilian jury” and statements of the defendants and their lawyers refusing to be present in court under the unjust circumstances. Every family received a copy.
The lawyers then submitted a letter concerning “Submission of major cases” to the Dalian City Procuratorate, suing the Zhongshan Court. Ten lawyers signed the lawsuit. The lawyers also went to the Dalian City Intermediate Court Commission for Discipline and Inspection and filed the lawsuit against the Zhongshan Court for acting against legal procedures, and also presented evidence. They also submitted written materials regarding the lawsuit to the Dalian Municipal People's Congress.
The lawyers encountered enormous resistance during this process, and they had to go though a heated argument at almost every office. However, the lawyers based their arguments on the law, and the government agencies had to comply.
The 13 practitioners on trial were: Mr. Che Zhongshan, Mr. Zhu Chengqian, Mr. Wang Shouchen, Mr. Wang Tao, Mr. She Yue, Mr. Shi Zhanshun, Mr. Pei Zhenbo, Ms. Pan Xiuqing, Ms. Lin Lihong, Ms. Bai Ruyu, Ms. Li Shengjie, Mr. Guo Song, and Mr. Yu Bo. Many of them have been severely mistreated in detention.
Officers from the Dalian City 610 Office, Domestic Security Division, and the police department, along with many local police stations and neighborhood committees, carried out a mass arrest of Falun Gong practitioners in the Dalian area on July 6, 2012. The practitioners arrested were alleged to have been involved with the installation of satellite dishes to receive NTDTV programs broadcasting uncensored news from overseas. Nearly 100 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested, detained and some were tortured in detention.
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