Absurd Second Trial: Prosecutor Granted Postponement of Initial Trial to Collect More Evidence
(Minghui.org) Officials from Nanyang City Intermediate Court in Henan Province held a second trial for Mr. Zhang Zewen on March 14, 2014, at Neixiang County Court. This was due to the defendant appealing the original verdict of being sentenced to seven years in prison for producing materials that promote Falun Gong.
Midway through the second trial, the prosecutor requested that the proceedings be postponed because he wanted to collect more evidence. When the Chief Judge approved the request, the defense lawyer couldn't believe his ears and asked him to point to a current Chinese law that allows for such a request.
Court Officials Try to Stop Defense Lawyer at Every Opportunity
The second trial started at 9:00 a.m., and the defense lawyer pleaded “not guilty” for Mr. Zhang. However, his plea was interrupted repeatedly by the chief judge, the jury and the prosecutor. They also adjourned the session several times to discuss how to proceed with the trial.
During cross-examination of the evidence, the defense lawyer pointed out that officials from Neixiang County Court, the Procuratorate and police departments did not follow the law. He stated that the process, including how Mr. Zhang was arrested, interrogated and how the evidence was collected was done illegally. The lawyer then went on to say how officials from the intermediate court tried to stop him from appealing, as they did not want a re-trial and wanted to keep the original verdict. The jury kept banging on the table in an attempt to stop him from continuing. However, the lawyer told the jury, “If you have anything to say, tell the judge.” Mr. Zhang's lawyer refuted the charges and evidence brought against his client for the entire morning.
Mr. Zhang was taken back to the detention center during recess at noon. After lunch, the defense lawyer requested to continue, but the judge tried to postpone the trial with the excuse that Mr. Zhang could not be brought back from the detention center until 2:00 p.m.
When the trial resumed at 2:30 p.m., the chief judge declared that trial was to be postponed at the prosecutor's request, since he wanted time to collect more evidence. Mr. Zhang's lawyer demanded to know what existing Chinese law grants such a postponement. He explained that his client was being deprived of the right to appeal if new evidence was brought to light during this second trial. The judge did not answer and the trial ended.
Date for Second Trial Changed for a Host of Reasons
Officials from Nanyang City Intermediate Court informed Mr. Zhang's lawyer and family members, a few days before the trial date, that the second trial would be scheduled at Neixiang County Court for 9:00 a.m. on March 13, 2014.
Mr. Zhang's family, friends and lawyer were at the court before 9:00 a.m., but still nobody else had arrived by 10:00 a.m.. They demanded an explanation from the court staff, who claimed that officials from Nanyang Intermediate Court had not notified them of the trial.
When Mr. Zhang's lawyer called the judge at Nanyang Intermediate Court, he was informed that the trial did not start on time because the prosecutor was unable to attend. The lawyer then explained that he had traveled from Beijing and Mr. Zhang's family also had quite a distance to travel to attend the trial, and therefore it must be held that day. It was then stated that the trial would commence at 11:30 a.m., but the prosecutor still didn't show up.
Finally, court officials stated that Mr. Zhang could not be released from the detention center, and that there was a meeting they had to attend at 2:30 p.m. Therefore, the trial was to be rescheduled for 9:00 a.m. the following day.
Persistence Pays Off After Appealing the First Trial
Mr. Zhang's was first tried on September 8, 2013, at Neixiang County Court, which is directed by officials from the Nanyang City 610 Office and the Nanyang Political and Legal Affairs Committee. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
When Mr. Zhang's family hired a lawyer to defend him, they found out that the entire process, from his arrest to his trial, was illegal. They appealed several times against the verdict and asked for a public hearing at Nanyang City Intermediate Court. However, officials from the court did not want to have a re-trial. They initially claimed that the case documents had not been passed over from Neixiang County Court and that they had also not received the request for an appeal.
After a great deal of effort and persistence from Mr. Zhang's family and their lawyer, the second trial was finally held on March 14, 2014.
Details of Mr. Zhang's Arrest
Mr. Zhang was arrested by officers from Neixiang County Domestic Security Division on the afternoon of June 27, 2013. This was part of a large scale arrest of practitioners arranged by officials from Nanyang Domestic Security Division, 610 Office and Political and Legal Affairs Committee.
During the arrest, officers did not identify themselves, provide any arrest warrant or other documents, and proceeded to ransack Mr. Zhang's rented place. They confiscated his laptop, a printer, his Falun Gong books, truth clarification materials and other personal belongings. Initially, his family were not informed where he was being held, but after much effort, they found out that he was at Neixiang County Detention Center.