华盛顿邮报陈光诚案庭审报导Chinese Rights Activist Stands Trial After Police Detain Defense Team |
Chinese Rights Activist Stands Trial After Police Detain Defense Team
By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, August 19, 2006; Page A10
BEIJING, Aug. 18 -- The blind rural lawyer who exposed forced abortions and sterilizations in eastern China last year stood trial Friday without his lawyers, while supporters said the case made a mockery of any effort in China to impose the rule of law.
Chen Guangcheng, 34, appeared pale and thin when he showed up at a county courthouse in eastern Shandong province wearing a black T-shirt, gray pants and slippers, said his brother, Chen Guangfu, 49.
Outside, a heavy police presence prevented supporters from attending the trial, although another two of Chen's brothers were allowed inside.
Chen's three-member defense team, including the nation's top human rights advocates, had been detained by police the previous night, one of them said. Lawyer Xu Zhiyong remained detained until well after Chen's trial had ended.
By noon Friday, the two defense lawyers released from detention appealed to the judge to delay the trial. "Due to the violation of the defendant's rights and the lawyers' rights," they refused to attend the trial and asked for a deferment, said Teng Biao, another lawyer who was assisting the defense team. "We didn't get any reply," he said.
Judge Wang Jun of Yinan county announced that Chen's lawyers could not appear "due to some unexpected reason," and appointed two local lawyers to represent Chen instead.
A furious Chen yelled, "I refuse to attend the court trial if the lawyers designated by me don't show up," his brother said.
"Void," Wang said, as two assistant judges watched.
"Hooligans!" Chen yelled.
"Uncivilized language!" Wang said.
No witnesses were called.
"The so-called defendant lawyers didn't defend my brother at all, but just repeated two words, 'No objection, no objection,' until the very end," Chen's brother said. "They concluded at the end, that this is, one, a case without any confession, and two, that Chen Guangcheng should be shown leniency because he is a blind man."
Chen Guangcheng was so angry he then threw up three times during the two-hour trial, lawyers said.
The three lawyers who were supposed to have defended Chen had been about to leave their hotel for dinner Thursday night when they were suddenly surrounded by six men who accused the attorneys of stealing one of their wallets. The men called the police, who then detained the lawyers at a local police station.
"This is a sham trial. These two lawyers had never met Chen Guangcheng before the trial. How can anyone expect them to effectively defend Chen?" said Li Fangping, one of the three attorneys who was detained.
"Chen himself protested in the court room this afternoon about the unauthorized designation of lawyers, but the judge turned a deaf ear to it," he said.
"It's ridiculous, absurd and illegitimate," said Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing, who was barred from the trial. "Even if Guangcheng did make a crime, the authority should at least have an open trial."
Chen, who has been under house arrest or in police detention for nearly a year, faces charges of destroying public property and disrupting traffic in his home village. Supporters say those charges were trumped up after Chen filed a rare class-action lawsuit last year, revealing abuses in enforcing China's one-child-only policy in Linyi, a city of 10 million people about 400 miles southeast of Beijing.
Rights groups condemned the disregard for Chen's legal rights.
"Progress toward rule of law at minimum requires the authorities to comply with legal protections and procedures on the books," said Sharon Hom, executive director of New York-based Human Rights in China. In this case, "court-appointed lawyers who remain silent throughout the proceedings and speak only to ask for mercy on the basis of the defendant's blindness make a mockery of the right to legal counsel. The final decision in this case will speak volumes about China's commitment to respecting the rights of its citizens."
The judge was expected to issue a verdict at end of this month or at the beginning of September, said Li, the defense attorney.
Also Friday, a well-known human rights lawyer who has lobbied for Chen's release was detained in Shandong province for questioning in unspecified "criminal activities," the official New China News Agency reported. Gao Zhisheng, 42, has been under surveillance for taking on sensitive causes from labor unrest to Falun Gong, the suppressed religious group.
Researcher Jin Ling contributed to this report.