Chen Guangcheng Retrial Confirms Jail Term: Gross Injustice, Blatant AbusesComments Off on Chen Guangcheng Retrial Confirms Jail Term: Gross Injustice, Blatant Abuses
The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
December 1, 2006
Chen Guangcheng Retrial Confirms Jail Term:
Gross Injustice, Blatant Abuses
Serious rights abuses and procedural violations marred the November 27 retrial of Chen Guangcheng, which, not surprisingly, let to today’s verdict, announced at 8:30 am by the Yinan County People’s Court: Chen Guangcheng is convicted again for the same crimes, “intentional obstruction of traffic” and “inciting destruction of property.” He is sentenced to 4 years and 3 months, exactly the same term as given by the same court after the August trial, which was overturned by a higher court in October.
The Yinan authorities would never have ruled differently. An acquittal or a reduced sentence would admit that they were guilty as charged by lawyers in a proceeding brought against them – for arbitrary detention, torture of key witnesses, intimidating lawyers and depriving defendant’s legal rights, and for widespread use of violent means (forced abortion and sterilization) in enforcing the birth control policy. To obstruct justice is Chen Guangcheng’s retrial is to stop any such efforts at seeking local officials’ accountability for serious abuses that they are accused of. At the heart of the problem, of course, is the lack of judicial independence of the Yinan court from the Yinan county government and communist party officials, who were tied to criminal activities in implementing the family planning policy, which Mr. Chen Guangcheng was instrumental in exposing in 2005 and for which he is being punished by being thrown in jail.
CRD finds the retrial procedures deeply flawed, the verdict grossly unfair, and the imprisonment of Chen Guangcheng arbitrary – in violation of Chinese law, international conventions on due process rights, and basic human rights principles. We ask for his immediate and unconditional release.
Authorities did little to correct the gross unfairness of the initial trial, though they did allow Mr. Chen’s own lawyers, his wife and mother to attend the trial on Nov. 27. CRD has documented the following abuses surrounding the retrial:
Police intimidation, detention, or making disappear key witnesses, some of them had been tortured into signing incriminating testimony against Mr. Chen;
Police interfered in lawyers’ independence in doing their job; detained and abused a member of the defense team in order to intimidate and keep him out of the courtroom;
The court failed to consider new evidences and re-examine old evidence – confessions extracted through torture;
Trial closed to the public;
Abuse and detention of Mr. Chen’s wife, a key witness.
(See Appendix below for further details)
Chen Guangcheng will appeal again for his sentence to the Linyi City Intermediate Court. Lawyers who went back to Yinan to receive the verdict did not make on time due to bus breakdown on the road, but they have prepared for filing an appeal in case the court pronounced their client guilty. Ms. Yuan was detained by more than 30 policemen in the hospital where she is recovering from trauma caused by police abuse. Chen Guangcheng’s mother was stopped outside the courtroom today by police, who cited her role as a witness. Only Mr. Chen’s older brother Chen Guangfu was present.
CRD believes that the appeals court, the Linyi Intermediate Court, will have no reason to rule differently from its Oct. 30 ruling, which overturned the Yinan Court’s verdict, since the Yinan court failed again to consider the new evidence and question the old evidence, as the higher court had requested it to do, and since the retrial is procedurally flawed on multiple accounts.
CRD demands the immediate release of Mr. Chen Guanghe, who was abducted when he was to meet the lawyers, and investigation of the whereabouts of two men, Chen Guangyu and Chen Guangdong, who had disappeared. The three men are key witnesses, who had said they would testify in court about being tortured to give confessions, which were used to convict Chen Guangcheng during the first trial. The Yinan PSB must also end the arbitrary detention of Ms. Yuan, Chen Guangcheng’s wife.
CRD urges the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to investigate the Yinan PSB officers’ abuses of the law and obstruction of justice – intimidation of witnesses, violation of the legal rights of the defendant and his family members, and interference in the independence of lawyers in carrying out their legal defense for the defendant.
CRD asks the UN human rights bodies, the EU and other “human rights dialogue” partners with China to raise the case of Chen Guangcheng with the Chinese authorities.
Appendix: More Detailed Information on Irregularities Surrounding the Re-Trial
Obstructing Key Witnesses from Attending Trial
Lawyers submitted new evidence and a long list of witnesses to the court after they received notice from Yinan County Court, on November 22, informing that Chen’s retrial would be held on November 27. However, several key witnesses, whose jail term are postponed after they were tortured to give testimony against Mr. Chen, according to their statements to Chen’s lawyers, were intimidated and warned, or detained, abducted, or made to disappear by police to stay out of the trial. Those who are migrant laborers in other cities have been visited by police, or their family members have been warned that they should not return to testify during the trial. Mr. Chen Gengjiang, a key witness was detained in the morning on November 26 and released after the trial. He was forced to sign papers to promise staying out of the case. Mr. Chen Guangdong and Mr. Chen Guangyu, two other key witnesses, suddenly disappeared on the 26 after they had told lawyers they would testify in court. Mr. Chen Guanghe was abducted by unidentified men when he was about to meet with the lawyers in the afternoon of Nov. 26. His whereabouts remains unknown. Chen Guanghe, Chen Guangdong and Chen Gengjiang had promised lawyers that they would testify about being forced through torture to provide false testimony against Chen during his first trial. Mr. Chen’s lawyers thus could not contact key witnesses before the retrial and these witnesses could not attend the retrial. Ms. Yuan Weijing, Chen Guangcheng’s wife, also a witness, remained under residential surveillance, until the day before the trial. She did not receive any notice from the court about the trial.
During the retrial on November 27, the same prosecutors presented their cases with the same old evidence and the same judges presided on the trial, though the court records seem more accurate than the previous trial. When chief defense lawyer Li Jinsong raised the issue of the missing defense witnesses’ to the judge, and the judge responded that it was irrelevant. Li Jinsong subsequently left the court in protest. The remaining lawyer, Li Fangping, stayed in court. Both lawyers defended their client’s innocence. (See the defense team’s argument in Chinese at:
Chen Guangcheng also defended his own non-guilt at his retrial The retrial lasted ten hours. The verdict was announced on December 1, 2006. The Yinan County Court sentenced Chen Guangcheng to the same jail term: 4 years and 3 months.
Intimidation of lawyers and Interference in their Work
Before the retrial, Mr. Chen’s lawyers Li Jinsong and Li Fangping had traveled to his village, Gushidong Village, to interview witnesses and collect evidence. Police stopped them at the outskirts of the village. While they were allowed to meet with Mr. Chen’s wife and mother, they were unable to meet with other key witnesses, including three villagers who were released from detention, where, as they told the lawyers, they were tortured to sign incriminating testimonies against Mr. Chen – records of interrogation. The lawyers waited outside the village and tried to negotiate with the police, without success.
Dr. Teng Biao, also a lawyer and a member of the defense team, was denied permission to attend the trial when he applied beforehand. In the morning of the 27th, he was abducted and detained for five hours in order to prevent him from attending the trial. During the detention, he was roughly handled. Six or seven policemen pushed him to the ground, pinned him down, searched him, and grabbed his cell phone. They searched his bags and his computer, and interrogated him. They never produced any ID nor any detention order. They never told him the cause of his detention.
While Mr. Chen’s wife, mother, and at least one brother were allowed to attend the trial, no one else is allowed into the courtroom.
Abuse and Detention of Defendant’s Wife
Ms. Yuan was detained and put under residential surveillance the day after the trial. On November 28, lawyers and witnesses, including Ms. Yuan went to the courthouse to review and sign court records of their testimonies. Around 12 noon, Ms. Yuan was detained by Yinan County Public Security Bureau in front of the lawyers. Police produced a paper authorizing “detention for questioning.” Her 1-year-old enfant was also taken in, who was later sent back to their home villager. Eight hours later, Ms. Yuan was dragged out of a police car and thrown on the road side outside her village. She was nearly unconscious. Until the next day, she did not talk. She was unresponsive, only uncontrollably sobbing. She was sent to a hospital in the neighboring county, Mengyin County Menglianggu Hospital, where doctors order her to stay for treatment and observation, where she is still recovering. About 20 policemen watched her at the hospital. Doctors said that she was severely traumatized, which caused headache, tightening chest, and stomach spasm. Later, after she began talking again, she recalled that police very roughly handled her and verbally abused her. Before they threw her outside the village, they had left her on the ground for two hours after she was exhausted by the abuses. During the detention, police also issued an order to authorize putting Ms. Yuan under “residential surveillance” (jian shi ju zhu). The order gives the cause as “on suspicion for ‘intentional obstruction of traffic’ and ‘inciting to destruct property’.” Chinese law allows a maximum of six months for residential surveillance. Ms. Yuan had been under surveillance or house arrest for 15 months without any legal order.
On August 20, Chen Guangcheng was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment for “inciting property destruction” and “obstructing traffic” by a closed-door trial. In late October, the Linyi City People’s Intermediate Court ruled to overturn the lower court’s guilty verdict. The case was sent back to the Yinan County Court for a re-trial. The Linyi Court provided no explanation for this decision. Following this decision, however, Chen Guangcheng should have been released because he should now be presumed innocent until the re-trial proves he is guilty. CRD believes that Mr. Chen’s detention since March 2006 is arbitrary – in violation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). For more information on this case, see CRD statement about the overturn ruling: https://www.nchrd.org/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=2540.
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