Key Witness Abducted by Police before the Retrial of Chen Guangcheng

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Immediate release

CRD, December 6, 2006

Obstruction of Justice:

Key Witness Abducted by Police before the Retrial of Chen Guangcheng

CRD protests Yinan County police abduction and subsequent detention of a key witness in the Chen Guangcheng case before the Yinan courts held its second hearing. This is a clear instance of blatant obstruction of justice by authorities.

On December 3, Yinan police notified the family of Chen Guanghe (陈光和) that he had been formally arrested on November 28 under Article 61 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Chen had been abducted and disappeared less than two days before Chen Guangcheng’s retrial, and this is the first news of his whereabouts since then.

On November 26, at 6:50 pm, Chen Guangcheng’s defense lawyer Li Fanping was preparing to meet Chen Guanghe outside his hotel in Yinan, when he saw several unidentified men kidnapping Chen. We now know they turned out to be undercover police officers from the Yinan County Public Security Bureau’s crime unit.

During Chen Guangcheng’s first trial, Chen Guanghe was detained by Yinan police and forced through torture to confess his own crimes as well as to testify against Chen Guangcheng. He was then convicted but given a postponed sentence and allowed to return home. Before Chen Guangcheng’s second trial. Chen Guanghe bravely submitted written testimony revealing that his previous testimony had been coerced through torture. He was scheduled to testify to this effect at Chen Guangcheng’s trial on November 27. This is apparently why police kidnapped him on November 26.

According to Article 61 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which police cited as legal basis for Chen’s detention, “Under any of the following circumstances, a public security organ may initially detain an active offender or major suspect:

1. if he is plotting to commit a crime or is in the process of committing a crime or is discovered immediately after having committed a crime;

2. if he is identified as having committed a crime by the victim or by an eyewitness;

3. if criminal evidence is found on his body or at his residence;

4. if he attempts to commit suicide or escape after committing the crime, or he is a fugitive;

5. if there is a possibility of destroying or falsifying evidence or colluding to make confessions tally;

6. if he refuses to give his real name and address, or his identity is unknown; or

7. if he is strongly suspected of vagrantly committing crimes, frequently committing crimes or committing crimes in gangs.”

Chen Guanghe’s situation does not fit any of the above conditions, and so his arrest has no legal basis. Moreover, when arresting him, police did not show any identification and did not notify his family of his whereabouts or reason for his arrest for six days. This is in clear violation of Chinese law and international human rights convention.

We demand the Yinan PSB to immediately release Chen Guanghe, to publicly apologize, and to ensure that similar arrests do not happen in the future. We ask members of the Chinese civil society and the international community to condemn this gross injustice in the imprisonment of Chen Guangcheng, including this instance of arbitrary arrest of a key witness, and to continue monitoring the situation. We believe that any law enforcement officials who broke the law should be subjected to criminal investigation.

For more information, please visit the latest update on the Chen Guangcheng case on the CRD website

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