Court Circumvents Defense Lawyer in Trial of Falun Gong Practitioner
(Minghui.org) Extralegal proceedings against Falun Gong practitioners by a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) court were recently observed when the defense attorney for a Falun Gong practitioner was not notified of the date of his client’s trial and was also denied full legal access to his client’s court documents.
The trial was held in Karamay City, Xinjiang Autonomous Region on February 17, 2016. The defendant, Ms. Zhao Shuyuan, was helped into the courthouse, as she was in poor health due to having been on a hunger strike.
Ms. Zhao had hired a defense lawyer, but he did not appear in court because he had not been informed of the trial date.
The lawyer, Tang Tianhao, is based in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, which is far from Karamay City. He had been waiting for the trial notification, and was initially informed by the court that he could legally represent his client. In addition, the lawyer was promised that he could have an official meeting with Ms. Zhao before the court session.
The court told Ms. Zhao before the trial that her lawyer had resigned from her case. (However, the lawyer had not resigned. He was simply awaiting the trail date notice from the court.)
As a victim of the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Zhao was being tried for filing a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the CCP who launched the persecution of Falun Gong.
At least 200,000 persecution victims have already filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin. The trial and court's circumventing the lawyer from defending his client shows that the last vestiges of authority from Jiang's regime are trying to prevent persecution victims from seeking justice.
The verdict of the trial is yet unknown.
Defense Attorney Also Denied Full Access to Court Documents
Mr. Tang Tianhao flew to Karamay City on January 15, 2016 to review Ms. Zhao's court documents. Prior to that he was informed that a trial would be held on January 18, and was promised that he would be granted full access to documents regarding his client.
He arrived at the criminal district court at the scheduled time, but a court officer told him that because the case involved Falun Gong, he would not have full access to the court documents, as he would in normal trial proceedings.
“You can manually transcribe the documents, but cannot make any photocopies of them,” the officer said.
This unexpected restriction rendered the lawyer unable to fully review his client's case before January 18.
While Mr. Tang was transcribing the document, he petitioned to the court to allow the witnesses recorded in the court document to appear at the trial for cross- examination. The officer turned him down, saying he should have petitioned for that earlier.
He was then notified that the trial scheduled for January 18 had been called off, and a new date was yet to be decided.
Mr. Tang asserted that the court was in violation of China's law, which stipulates that lawyers should have full access to court documents, including making photocopies. He decided to appeal to higher authorities.
Persecution of Ms. Zhao
Ms. Zhao is a resident of Karamay City and an engineer at the Karamay Petroleum Bureau. She was arrested by officers from the Karamay Police Department on November 5, 2015.
Her case was submitted to the Karamay Procuratorate in early December 2015, and subsequently passed to the Karamay District Court on December 24.
Ms. Zhao is being held in the Karamay Detention Center, where she remains in poor health after initiating a hunger strike to protest the persecution.
Ms. Zhao had previously been sentenced to forced labor after the CCP began persecuting Falun Gong in July 1999.
She was also sentenced to nine years of imprisonment in Xinjiang Women's Prison in 2002. She previously held a huger strike for nearly four years to protest the persecution. Prison guards once poured a bowl of boiling water into her mouth, which caused severe burns.
More details of Ms. Zhao's persecution can be obtained here:Engineer Brutally Force-Fed during Nine Years in Prison, Arrested Again for Suing Jiang Zemin
People involved in persecuting Ms. Zhao:Song Hongli (宋宏利), secretary of the Karamay Political and Legal Affairs Committee: +86-990-6223823 (Office)Zeng Xianjiang (曽宪江), chief of Karamay Police Department: +86-990-6884223 (Office)Feng Jiezhong (冯杰忠), chief of Karamay district police station: +86-990-6888827 (Office)Zhao Wei (赵薇), prosecutor of Ms. Zhao’s case: +86-990-6913263 (Office)Jin He (金鹤), judge of Karamay Criminal Court