Changchun Man Sentenced to Prison After Chaotic Court Trial
(Minghui.org) A recent trial of a Falun Gong practitioner in the Gaoxin District Court once again underscores the flagrant lack of justice and rule of law in China, where constitutionally-guaranteed rights to freedom of belief are routinely trampled.
Mr. Wang Yongqing attended his scheduled trial on November 10, 2016 without his lawyer present. The court had not informed his attorney, who does not reside in the area, of the trial. Shortly after the trial began, it was abruptly stopped.
On December 10, Mr. Wang was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 40,000 yuan (~5,755 USD) by the Gaoxin District Court for possessing paper currency that had information about Falun Gong printed on it. His attorney has appealed to the Changchun City Intermediate Court.
Short Notice of Trial
Mr. Wang's family received a phone call from the Gaoxin District Court on November 9, 2016. They were informed that Mr. Wang's case would be heard the next day, November 10. The family immediately questioned the lack of notice, indicating that according to provisions in the Criminal Law, the defense lawyer must be informed of the hearing three days in advance. The family was told that lawyers from other areas (i.e. non-local) were not qualified to represent Mr. Wang at the court hearing.
According to inside sources, the Jilin Province Police Department, the Procuratorate, the Court, and other departments jointly issued a document that bars non-local lawyers from defending Falun Gong practitioners in court.
On November 9, Mr. Wang's family tried several times to contact judge Dong Qiang, who was in charge of Mr. Wang's case in the Gaoxin District Court, about the issue of the defense attorney. The family requested that the hearing be delayed so that the defense attorney could attend the hearing. Judge Dong Qiang flatly rejected the request.
Court Procedure Ignored
The family attended the hearing on November 10. From the start, the hearing did not go according to procedure. There was no announcement of the members of the collegial panel and no inquiry into the absence of the defense attorney.
Two family members protested in court, “Our lawyer is not here. It's illegal to hold such a hearing. It is undermining the law.” The chairman of the tribunal ordered the bailiffs to escort the family members out of the courtroom immediately.
Then Mr. Wang Yongqing himself strongly requested that his defense attorney be present. The judge replied that a non-local attorney was not qualified for such a hearing.
Mr. Wang said, “According to Chinese Law, the practice of law by a lawyer shall be free of territorial restrictions.” When he asked if the trial was being recorded or videotaped, the bailiffs covered his mouth and stopped him.
Mr. Wang said that the prosecutor present should supervise the illegal actions of the court and stop the infringing action of the judge.
Four bailiffs surrounded Mr. Wang and lifted him up off the floor. The courtroom became chaotic. The chairman of the tribunal ordered the bailiffs to take the defendant out of the courtroom. The court session ended hastily, just several minutes after it had begun.
Family and Defense Attorney Given Runaround
Mr. Wang's family later went to the Appeal Section of the Gaoxin District Procuratorate to file a complaint against judge Dong Qiang for violating the procedure of law, and they requested a written response to their complaint. On December 1, 2016, the family returned to the procuratorate and again requested a written response to their complaint. The staff there told the family that they would not give a written response because this kind of case is under the jurisdiction of the 610 Office, and advised them to go directly to that office.
A family member said, “One of the important responsibilities of the procuratorate is to supervise the court. We filed a complaint against the judge for not following the hearing procedure. Why should we go to the 610 Office? It is not a body of law. Who has given it the right to supervise a procedure of law?” The staff in the reception room didn't respond.
Mr. Wang's family and his defense attorney went to the Appeal Section of the Changcun City Procuratorate on December 7 to file a complaint against the judge. They were told the same, that they should go to the 610 Office.
Mr. Wang's lawyer sent a letter of complaint against judge Dong Qiang to the Supreme Procuratorate shortly after the illegal hearing occurred. So far, there hasn't been any response.
Parties involved in the persecution of Mr. Wang:Dong Qiang, judge, Gaoxin District Court: +86-431-86007106Guo Xuejun, prosecutor, Gaoxin District Procuratorate: +86-31-81707995