Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Tried Behind Closed Door

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Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Tried Behind Closed Door,

without Lawyers Authorized by Family

CRD protests the illegal trial of Gao Zhisheng, the human rights lawyer, by the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court on December 12, 2006. Lawyers authorized by Gao’s family, Mo Shaoping and Ding Xikui, were not allowed to defend Gao in court. In fact, the lawyers and the family were not informed of the trial, though the court claimed to have posted the trial date and place three days ago and called the trial “public.” The court appointed two lawyers not authorized by the family to attend the trial. The court also claimed that Gao Zhisheng confessed to the crime that he was charged with, “inciting sedition against the state,” though there is no way to confirm the court’s claims since no independent lawyers, family members, or observers were in the courtroom. Lawyers never saw the prosecution paper, nor had they have the chance to see the prosecutors’ evidence against Gao.

Police also arrested Gao Xian, 19, Mr. Gao’s nephew in the evening of December 12. Gao xian was accompanying Ms. Geng He home from the office of the lawyers when a group of national security police took him away. Gao Xian is a migrant laborer from Shanxi Province, who had served as the liaison between Ms. Geng He and the lawyers and supporters since September. Gao Xiao is likely to be sent back to his village in Shanxi.

Gao’s wife, Geng He, had been under pressure from National Security Protection police (guo bao) to withdraw her authorization of Mr. Mo and Mr. Ding as Gao’s lawyer. On December 7, after Ms. Geng signed the authorization paper, police forcibly entered her apartment, talked to her for 5 hours, trying to get her to withdraw the authorization without success. Gao’s older brother, Gao Zhiyi, had authorized the lawyers on September 12.

The lawyers had repeatedly requested the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to meet with their client on September 19 and 22 and on October 13 and 22 without any success. Police cited “state secrets” as a pretext for denying the lawyers’ visits.

On September 28, the lawyers’ request for bail for Mr. Gao to wait for his trial outside prison was rejected. They sent in another request for bail on October 24, but never got any answer. Between September and November, they repeatedly sent in oral and written requests for information about the crime that Gao was charged with and whether he was formally arrested, etc. The Beijing PSB never provided an answer. The Beijing PSB refused to accept the authorization paper signed by Gao’s wife for appointing Mr. Mo and Mr. Ding as Gao’s lawyers on November 27. The lawyers had to mail the authorization paper on November 30. When the lawyers finally reached a prosecutor on December 4, they were told that Gao’s case had been sent to the Beijing No. 1 court on December 1. The lawyers then handed in their authorization to represent Gao to the No. 1 Court.

The court told them on December 7 in a meeting and then on the phone on December 8 that Gao Zhisheng did not refused to accept anyone to be his lawyer, hence Mr. Mo and Mr. Ding could not meet Gao. But the judges who said this did not produce any statement to this effect signed by Gao. There is thus no way to confirm such a claim. The only way to do this was to allow the two lawyers to meet with Gao. Moreover, as Mr. Mo and Mr. Ding pointed out, if Gao did indeed refuse to accept any lawyer to represent him, why would he ever allow the two lawyers appointed by the court to represent him during the December 12 trial?

The Beijing PSB, procuratorate, and the No. 1 court authorities have violated relevant Chinese law stipulations and internationally recognized legal rights. As the lawyers Mr. Mo and Mr. Ding pointed out, in information obtained by CRD, the crime that Gao was charged with and tried for, “inciting sedition against the state”, refers to public acts (speech and writing), hence the case could not be said to involve state secrets. Moreover, if the court did indeed hold a “public” trial, then, the court did not treat this case as one involving “state secret.” This contradicts the PSB police officials, who had cited “state secret” to deny the lawyers’ request for visits. This violated Gao Zhisheng’s right to legal aid during investigation and his right to legal council of his own choice.

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