Tonghua City, Jilin Province: Court Officials Conspire to Dismiss Falun Gong Practitioner's Defense Lawyer
(Minghui.org) Following a botched illegal trial of Ms. Xu Yingjie in her hospital room on March 7, 2014 , Dongchang District Court in Tonghua City has been trying to get her Beijing attorney removed from the case and replaced with one appointed by the court. Ms. Xu had been arrested for her belief in Falun Gong and tortured to the point of being in critical condition within three months.
Right after the failed trial at the hospital, the Tonghuia Political and Legal Affairs Committee, along with the judiciary departments, held a meeting regarding Ms. Xu's defense attorney. An official from this group later told the Beijing attorney on the phone, “Don't come again to defend your client. Otherwise, we will have your law license revoked.” They also threatened to arrest him if he returned. However, the attorney negotiated with the judge, Yang Wancheng, and in the end Yang had to agree to notify the attorney three days prior to the trial.
Ms. Xu's family went to the judge to request access to her medical records on March 10, 2014, but Yang refused. He pounded the table and shouted, “You guys are making trouble. Get out!” He ordered the guards to force Ms. Xu's family out, and the guards also videotaped them as they were pushed out.
On March 11, Ms. Xu's family went to the office of Zhao Yan, the presiding judge. However, Zhao refused to meet with them and told the family on the phone, “We can discuss it at the court hearing.”
Suspicious Note--Another Ploy to Dismiss Ms. Xu's Attorney
Ms. Xu was taken back the Changliu Detention Center in Tonghua on March 17. Her family was denied all contact with her, nor could they get any information about her condition. On March 21, however, one of the Tonghua 610 Office agents showed a statement to her family, which was said to have been written by Ms. Xu. The note indicated that Ms. Xu wanted to replace the Beijing attorney with a court-appointed attorney.
Ms. Xu's family told the agent that the note was not legitimate because there were no witnesses to confirm that she signed it of her own free will. They had good reason to believe that Ms. Xu signed the note under duress.
The whole scenario is highly dubious. Why would the detention center allow the 610 Office agent to deliver a “personal” note from Ms. Xu, but refuse to allow the family any contact with her? In addition, it seems unlikely that she would want to dismiss a well-regarded lawyer obtained by her own family in favor of one appointed by the court. The family should at least have the right to talk to Ms. Xu and find out what was really going on.
Initial Arrest and Attempted Trial at the Hospital
Ms. Xu was arrested by the local police on December 22, 2013 and is currently being detained at the Changliu Detention Center. She was taken to the No. 3 Hospital in Tonghua in critical condition on March 4, 2014, but her family wasn't notified.
Ms. Xu's family went to the Dongchang District Procuratorate inquiring about her case, but did not find out until March 4 that the case had been transferred to the Dongchang District Court. On March 5, her family learned from the court that Ms. Xu had been taken to the hospital and the court would hold a trial there on March 7.
At 9 a.m. on March 7, Ms. Xu's family and the attorney from Beijing arrived at the hospital for the trial. The court-appointed attorney didn't want to have anything to do with the Beijing attorney. With efforts from her family and the Beijing attorney, as well as Ms. Xu's approval, the court-appointed attorney was dismissed.
As Ms. Xu was barely conscious and her hands convulsed, her attorney advised that her condition was too severe for them to carry on with the trial at that time. The doctor also said that the patient should not be disturbed and then cleared the hospital room, effectively ending the hearing.
Yang reluctantly provided photocopies of the case file for the attorney at the court on March 7, but he refused to show the attorney Ms. Xu's medical records. He said that the trial would resume in ten days.