Xia Lin (夏霖)Comments Off on Xia Lin (夏霖)
Xia Lin 夏霖
Length of Punishment: 12 years (reduced to 10 on appeal)
Court: Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court
Trial Date: June 17, 2016
Sentencing Date: September 22, 2016
Dates of Detention/Arrest: November 8, 2014 (detained); December 15, 2014 (arrested)
Place of Incarceration: Beijing No. 3 Detention Center
Appeal Date: April 21, 2017
Appeal Court: Beijing Higher People’s Court
Appeal verdict: Upheld original verdict, reduced sentence to 10 years
Defense lawyer Xia Lin (夏霖), a colleague of prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) at Huayi Law Firm in Beijing, was summoned by police for questioning in November 2014. He was later put under criminal detention, but his family did not not receive an official arrest notice. Prior to that, authorities in Beijing repeatedly blocked Xia from visiting his client Guo Yushan (郭玉闪), the founder of an independent think tank, Transition Institute; Guo was seized during the suppression of supporters of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, one month before Xia was summoned. Xia Lin was also on the legal team for Pu Zhiqiang, who had been detained in May 2014 for commemorating June Fourth. Police were reportedly looking into Xia’s finances a few days before he was taken away. Police recommend Xia be indicted in May 15, 2015. Officials restricted Xia Lin’s access to legal counsel for months, but he was granted a visit in September 2015, after which his lawyers reported he was in good health. The procuratorate indicted Xia on December 2, 2015.
According to his lawyers’ defence statement, authorities accused Xia of swindling over 10 million RMB (approximately 1.5 million USD) from several individuals to pay off his gambling debts. His lawyers confirmed Xia Lin had borrowed money, but had been privately lent via contract with the relevant parties and did not consitute a criminal act, let alone fraud. One of the individuals involved submited evidence to court that he freely lent money to Xia, and none of the four relevant parties had ever filed a criminal or civil suit against Xia. They also argued in court that authorities had not provided any evidence of gambling debts, including such basic information as the amount owed and to whom. Furthermore, Xia Lin told his lawyers that the majority of police interrogations focused on his past handling of “politically-sensitive” cases, questions about Occupy Hong Kong, and his relationship with individuals such as Guo Yushan, Pu Zhiqiang, and Ai Weiwei, amongst others, and not the alleged fraud. Xia asserted his innocence of the charges and said the case is an act of reprisal for his professional work.
His lawyers raised in trial the numerous legal and procedural violations in Xia Lin’s case, including: deprivation of legal counsel, mistreatment, such as gruelling interrogation sessions, shining bright lights on him, and extensive use of shackles, and refusing to grant the defence lawyers full access to the evidence. The court also refused to grant a request to exclude evidence obtained by torture after a witness testified that he had been threatened by police to give evidence against Xia Lin, and did not allow the defence to call their witnesses to testify in Xia’s defence, nor allow the defence to question the other witnesses.
The Beijing court convicted Xia on September 22 and sentenced him to 12 years in prison and fined him 120,000 RMB. He was also order to repay 4.81 million RMB to two victims. Xia said he will appeal the sentence and reaffirmed his innocence, accoding to his wife, who told a media outlet after the sentencing that he shouted “I know this is revenge to me because I was the lawyer for all those sensitive cases.” Xia appealed the verdict, but his appeal was rejected and the court upheld the original verdict; however, his sentenced was reduced to 10 years.
Born on September 15, 1970, Xia Lin graduated from Southwest Institute of Political Science and Law (now Southwest University) in 1988. After graduation, he was assigned to work at the Guizhou Province Public Security Bureau, but he decided to become a lawyer instead. After practicing law in Guizhou for over a decade, Xia decided to move to Beijing. According to a close friend, his decision was influenced by an article written by Yu Shicun (余世存), a famous essayist and intellectual, that criticized the generation who lived through 1989 but chose to neglect that part of history.
Xia has taken on many “sensitive” cases pro-bono, and he first gained prominence in 2006 for defending Cui Yingjie (崔英杰), a migrant worker and street peddler who had killed an officer from the City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement (chengguan) who had confiscated his property. A year later, Cui received a death sentence with reprieve instead of immediate execution. In 2009, Xia represented Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇), a hotel worker who killed in self-defense a local official who tried to rape her. In the end, Deng avoided any criminal punishment. That same year, along with Pu Zhiqiang, Xia worked on the case of arrested environmental activist Tan Zuoren (谭作人), who was given five years in prison for wanting to investigate the quality of school buildings that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. Xia and Pu also represented Ai Weiwei and his wife in the tax evasion case brought against their company Beijing Fake Cultural Development, Ltd. following the artist’s detention in 2011.