Court Violations Cause Adjournment of Trial
(Minghui.org) The defense attorneys for Falun Gong practitioners being tried in the Yichun District Court in Heilongjiang Province pointed out that the court was not following correct legal procedures. The court adjourned and a new trial date was announced.
Ms. Liu Yanhua and Ms. Wu Wenjin, from the Yichun District of Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province, were arrested on the afternoon of May 17, 2013, at the Hongjiang Market, by officers from the Hongsheng Police Station. They were held in the Yichun Detention Center, and their case was submitted to the court on July 15, 2013.
The families of the arrested practitioners hired three attorneys from Beijing to defend them. The police, under the control of the 610 Office, interfered with the attorneys multiple times. In violation of the law, the police prevented the attorneys from meeting with their clients.
After strong demands from family members and the attorneys, the practitioners were finally allowed to meet with the attorneys.
The attorneys agreed to submit not-guilty pleas for Ms. Liu and Ms. Wu. During the meeting between the practitioners and the attorneys, guards at the detention center monitored and made a video recording of what was said.
The first trial was held in the Yichun District Court on September 10, 2013. After the opening remarks and during the identification verification phase, the presiding judge did not ask the public prosecutor for identification. The defense immediately pointed out that the judge was not following protocol.
Ms. Wu and Ms. Liu were brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, and their feet were shackled. Attorney Zhoa Yonglin pointed out that they were not criminals and should not be in shackles or handcuffs. The presiding judge stated that the detention center personnel had put the women in the shackles and handcuffs.
The defense emphasized repeatedly that Ms. Wu and Ms. Liu were in a courtroom, not a detention center. The judge could not continue, so he adjourned the proceedings. The guards were sent to the detention center to retrieve the keys to the cuffs and shackles, and Ms. Wu and Ms. Liu were freed.
During the trial, the defense attorneys repeatedly pointed out that the trial procedures were violating "criminal procedure law," and requested the withdrawal of the presiding judge and the public prosecutor. The presiding judge and the public prosecutor turned down their requests.
The attorneys asked the judge, “We requested the withdrawal of the public prosecutor. Do you have the right to turn down this request? Who has the right to refuse this request?” The judge replied that the chief procurator could evaluate it. Seeing that the situation was becoming more difficult, the judge announced an adjournment.
When the trial reconvened at 2:00 p.m., the court president was brought in to read a document, stating that, according to article XX of the criminal procedure law, the presiding judge had not violated the law and should continue to be the presiding judge of this case. Following that, the public prosecutor read a letter from the chief procurator stating that the public prosecutor also hadn't violated the law, and should continue as the public prosecutor of the case. The only person replaced was a judge on the collegial panel. The trial then continued.
Attorney Zhao Yonglin presented to the court serious violations of the criminal procedure law, including:
1. Because the new judge on the collegial panel had just taken over, he needed time to become familiar with the case and review the details.
2. The court should provide the list of charges to the defense attorneys ten days before the trial. Attorney Zhao Yonglin did not receive the list until the day of the trial.
3. The defendants, Ms. Wu Wenjin and Ms. Liu Yanhua, should have received the list of charges three days before the trial. They acquired the list on the morning before the trial.
The presiding judge had no comments to the accusations and reluctantly adjourned the trial. The trial was set to reconvene on September 24, 2013.