(Minghui.org) Attorney Li Zhongwei was the defense lawyer for 61-year-old Ms. Wu Guimin, a Falun Gong practitioner. He observed that presiding judge Du Qiguo was obviously partial to the prosecutor, so he asked Du to recuse himself from the case. Du’s response was to order the bailiff to remove Li from the courtroom.
Du is a presiding judge in the Yi County Court in Hebei Province, which has sentenced over 20 Falun Gong practitioners to prison since the Chinese Communist Party started persecuting Falun Gong in July 1999. Du presided over the trial of seven practitioners in 2009 and sentenced all of them to prison.
According Attorney Li, Du violated the law in several ways:
First, Du did not maintain order in the court and clearly favored the prosecutor. Without the judge's permission to speak, the prosecutor interrupted the defense several times. When Attorney Li raised his hand and asked Du to restrain the prosecutor, Du cut him off.
Second, Du did not allow Attorney Li to defend his client. After observing Du's partiality to the prosecutor, Li asked Du to recuse himself from the case. Du then angrily ordered the bailiff to remove Li from the courtroom, which meant he could not defend Ms. Wu.
Third, Du rendered a decision that he did not have the power to make. When Attorney Li asked Du to recuse himself, Du responded, “The motion is rejected.” However, since the request was about Du, it should be decided by the President of the Court, not the party in question.
Fourth, Du did not follow proper legal procedure after the defense attorney was removed from the courtroom. According to Criminal Law, if the defense attorney is not present, the judge must ask the defendant whether she wants to proceed with the trial. After Attorney Li was expelled from the courtroom, however, Du didn't ask Ms. Wu this important question. He just ordered the trial to continue.
Fifth, Du did not allow the defendant to defend herself. Whenever Ms. Wu started to defend herself, Du interrupted her and said she couldn’t continue. Du said, “What I say, goes, here.”
Attorney Li also noticed that the public had been discouraged from attending the trial. Criminal Law states that the public has a right to observe open trials. In Ms. Wu’s case, the trial was held in a small courtroom, and only two of Ms. Wu's family members were allowed to attend.
Attorney Li filed a complaint with the Baoding Municipal Intermediate Procuratorate in Hebei Province, which oversees the Yi County Court. Li asked the Procuratorate to hold Du accountable for violating legal procedure, to issue a Procuratorate opinion to the Yi County Court, and to ask the Yi County Court re-try Ms. Wu Guimin.
Ms. Wu's family also plans to file lawsuits if the authorities don't address the attorney's complaint adequately.