(Minghui.org) As more and more human rights attorneys in China have begun to represent Falun Gong practitioners, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials have come up with many ways to prevent them from defending practitioners in court.
The attorneys of many practitioners have encountered unlawful requests, such as going through safety inspections, even though the Chinese law stipulates that judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are exempt from this procedure.
A trial scheduled for June 3, 2014 against 12 practitioners was adjourned as a result of the defense attorneys' refusing to comply with demands to go through a safety inspection. The practitioners also protested the illegal conduct of the Mingshan District Court in Benxi City, Liaoning Province.
The 12 practitioners are among the 17 arrested on April 25, 2013 by the Mingshan District Police Station officers. Arrest warrants have been issued by the Mingshan District Procuratorate against them, including Mr. Yu Lixin, Ms. Wang Xiuyan, Ms. Zhang Meizhen, Mr. Liu Shiye, Ms. Sun Yuxia, Ms. Li Yan, Mr. Gao Chong, Ms. Li Xin, Ms. Wang Xiulian, Mr. Gao Gang, Ms. Ma Yuxiang, Ms. Li Chun.
As the defense attorneys and families of the 12 practitioners arrived at the courthouse on the morning on June 3, 2013, security officers of the court asked all of them to go through safety inspections, including the attorneys. The attorneys refused to comply and argued that it is against the law which “stipulates that presiding judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys are exempt from safety inspections” and that the security officers had no right to make such request.
Mingshan District Court in Benxi City
Hearing this, the security officers started to yell. However, the attorneys did not budge, reminding them that all court officials and staff should follow legal procedures and that their action was a violation of the law.
A security officer asked the attorneys, “What if you bring a bomb into the court?” The attorneys stated that if that was the concern, the judge and the prosecutors should also be checked. After several failed attempts to negotiate, one defense attorney told the security officers, “Not having to go through safety inspection is our privilege given by law. What you're doing is breaking the law and is in fact undermining law enforcement.”
The security officers were very belligerent when interacting with the attorneys and practitioners' family members. Some were chewing gum and even smoking inside of the courthouse. One officer suggested that the families fire the attorneys.
Presiding judge Ji Yunqin insisted that the attorneys go through a safety inspection and caused the standoff to last for over an hour. The attorneys filed a complaint to a superior government agency against Mingshan District Court officials.
Presiding judge Ji Yunqin of the Mingshan District Court
Judge Ji Yunqin announced that the trial would be held as scheduled although the attorneys chose not to enter. The security officers collected the family members' identification cards as they proceeded and entered the courtroom. Attorney Jiang Yibing decided to go through the safety inspection while the rest of the attorneys stood their ground.
When judge Ji started the trial by saying that it was an open trial, a family member objected, “Only two family members of each defendant are allowed to attend the hearing and the attorneys are not allowed to represent their clients. I wouldn't call it an open trial.” The twelve practitioners also protested and refused to continue with the hearing without the attorneys present.
As Judge Ji ignored objections of the defendants and intended to continue the trial, Attorney Jiang pointed out that it was a violation of due legal process to hold a trial without a defense attorney present and especially when the defendants refused to go through the hearing.
Judge Ji asked the twelve practitioners, “You can either hire another attorney or we will continue with the court session. What is it going to be?” The practitioners asked to meet with their attorneys before making the decision. Ji denied their request, tried to intimidate the practitioners and have them fire their attorneys on the spot. One practitioner declared, “My attorney and I signed a contract and agreed that no government agent or individual have the right to dismiss my attorney without my consent. I refuse to continue the hearing or answer any questions without my attorney's presence.”
The attorneys outside of the courtroom filed a complaint of misconduct against officials of the Mingshan District Court to a superior government agency. The President of the Mingshan District Court requested one of them to meet at his office.
An attorney saw a police officer video taping them from the guard booth and confronted him. The officer quickly put away the video camera and left.
Judge Ji announced around 11 a.m. that the trial would be adjourned. When the practitioners were escorted out of the courthouse, many family members clapped to show their support.