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We hereby state:
On October 28, 2013, Yushui District People’s Court in Xinyu, Jiangxi, began to try Liu Ping (刘萍), Wei Zhongping (魏忠平) and Li Sihua (李思华). As defense lawyers of the three defendants, we took part in the court procedure.
During the trial, we reiterated the same opinions that we had expressed during the pre-trial meeting with the judges: 1). According to Article 202 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Law, the court should have tried, and made a decision on, the case of Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, and Li Sihua, who were charged with illegal assembly, within three months of the indictment; 2) Since the court failed to try, and make a decision on, the case before the statutorily prescribed time limit, according to Article 96 of the Criminal Procedure Law, it should free the defendants, or, if further proceedings are called for, release them on bail awaiting trial, or place them in living-under-surveillance.
In response to our opinions, the presiding judge said, on behalf of the collegiate panel, that the timeline of the trial should be recalculated according to Article 202 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Law, because the People’s procuratorate of Wangcheng Industrial and Mining District of Xinyu brought two more charges against Liu Ping and Wei Zhongping – one is “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and the other “disrupting law enforcement through an evil cult organization” – on September 23, 2013.
We expressed our objection to the judge’s argument in court. Article 202 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Law says, “As to a case for which the people’s procuratorate has to conduct a supplementary investigation, the people’s court shall start to calculate anew the timeline for handling the case after the supplementary investigation has been completed and the case transferred to the court.” A “supplementary investigation” is totally different from “bringing additional charges,” and the collegiate panel has made a grave mistake in applying the law. In this case, there have never been any legal documents in relation to supplementary investigation procedures.
In addition, on October 15, 2013, we filed complaints, on behalf of our clients respectively, against the three judges of the collegiate panel for detention beyond the legally prescribed time limit. The prosecutors admitted in the court that the People’s Procuratorate of Wangcheng Industrial and Mining District of Xinyu had indeed received our complaints and were in the process of investigating them. Given that the investigation into whether the three judges of the collegiate panel have broken the law, as we have alleged they have, is ongoing, and that the investigation has been initiated due to complaints brought by the defendants in the case, we motioned to recuse the three judges from the case according to Article 28 (4) of the Criminal Procedure Law, considering that such a relationship between the judges and the defendants could very well impact the fair handling of the case. To our shock, the panel rejected our motion for recusal outright without submitting the motion to the chief justice of the court for a decision, in violation of Article 30 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Law.
Given the irregularities perpetrated by the judges of the collegiate panel, the three defendants withdrew their authorization of our representation, believing that the panel was unable to try the case in strict observance of the law and that the defense lawyers were unable to carry out their role properly. Following the withdrawal, the collegiate panel adjourned the trial to give 15 days to the defendants to re-appoint lawyers, and the date for resuming the trial will be announced separately by the court.
As defense lawyers taking part in today’s trial, we again call for the Yushui District People’s Court in Xinyu to respect, and abide by, the law by immediately solving the issue of detention beyond the legally prescribed time limit and by handling the defendants’ motion for recusal pursuant to the law.
Zhang Xuezhong , Zheng Jianwei, Liu Jinbin, Chen Guangwu, Pang Kun, and Li Jinxing
October 28, 2013
(Translation by ChinaChange.org)