On June 28, well-known rights defense lawyer Yang Zaixin (杨在新) was formally arrested by police in Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on charges of “witness tampering” (妨害作证罪) under Article 306 of China’s Criminal Law.
On June 14, the day that Yang was first detained, three other lawyers, Luo Sifang (罗思方), Liang Wucheng (梁武诚), and Yang Zhonghan (杨忠汉), were also detained or placed under house arrest by Beihai officials on similar charges.
The four lawyers were defense counsel in a murder trial in Behai that came to a standstill in September 2010 after testimony by three defense witnesses seriously challenged the prosecution’s case. The witnesses were subsequently arrested and indicted on perjury charges.
News of the four lawyers’ detention for doing their jobs—and of police preventing the local Guangxi lawyers retained by the lawyers’ families from meeting with their clients—galvanized many lawyers in China to form a special group to provide help. On June 27, the group sent six lawyers—Chen Guangwu (陈光武), Wu Lei (伍雷), Zhu Mingyong (朱明勇), Zhang Kai (张凯), Wang Xing (王兴), and Yang Mingkua (杨名跨)—to Beihai to provide legal assistance to the detained lawyers and the three witnesses.
On the afternoon of June 28, Yang Zaixin was allowed to meet with Chen Guangwu and Zhang Kai, who had been hired to represent him. Zhang Kai wrote on his microblog that during the meeting, Yang urged the All China Lawyers Association to support him and also said: “But if my sacrifice can bring progress for the lawyers’ system, then I’m willing to make that sacrifice.”
Yang’s wife, Huang Zhongyan (黄仲琰), posted Yang’s official arrest notice and an appeal to the public for help on her microblog. She stated that her family has endured hardships since 2003 when Yang was imprisoned for six months on trumped up charges affecting his work, and that she has not been able to make ends meet.
On June 28, the day of Yang Zaixin’s official arrest, Yang Zhonghan was released from detention on bail and Luo Sifang and Liang Wucheng were released from house arrest. All three have not spoken publicly or met with the lawyers’ group since their release.
Members of the special lawyers group have been reporting updates to the case online at their websites and microblogs below:
For more information on Yang Zaixin, see: