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Lawyers Report Procedural Irregularities at Trial of Rights Activist Wang Lihong

August 13, 2011

On August 12, 2011, the trial of Wang Lihong (王荔蕻) on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” (寻衅滋事) at Beijing’s Chaoyang District People’s Court ended without a verdict. Wang is a well-known and well-respected activist in Beijing who began her rights defense activities after retiring.

The prosecution’s charge is based on Wang’s role in organizing a protest outside a courthouse in Fujian on April 16, 2010, where three netizens were tried. The government charged that the protest resulted in disorder inside the courtroom and traffic confusion in the area, and recommended five years’ imprisonment. Wang has been in detention since March this year.

Wang’s defense lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he and co-counsel Han Yicun (韩一村) presented a not-guilty defense. Liu said that, from a legal point of view, the evidence presented by the government has failed to establish the crime with which Wang is charged. Han argued that organizing a protest is a fundamental right of a citizen which is protected under the Chinese constitution. According to Liu, the judge did not allow Han to finish his defense statement and also interrupted Wang’s final statement.

Han told HRIC that there were many procedural flaws in the case. During the police investigation period, Wang was only allowed two meetings with her lawyers; and when the prosecution was preparing the case, the lawyers were not allowed to photocopy case documents or present their arguments before the indictment, contrary to provisions in the law.

Han said that Wang did not have a fair trial. During the hearing, Han said, the prosecution did not present evidence piece by piece, but in a lump sum, making it impossible for the defense lawyers to examine each item. According to Han, he and Liu had requested a large courtroom in anticipation of a large group of supporters—and several hundred supporters did gather outside the court on the morning of the trial. However, the lawyers found out that the courtroom could only accommodate five observers. At the end, Wang’s son Qi Jianxian (齐健翔) was the only one allowed to observe the trial.

Han said that Wang has back problems but her spirit was good, and that she is prepared to go to prison.

Fan Yanqiong, one of the three netizens who were tried on April 16, 2010, said: “As we all know, our trial last year was an unprecedented farce in the judicial history of China and perhaps even the world. This farce is now continuing with Wang Lihong’s trial. All of this clearly tells the world: China’s constitution is nothing but rubbish. China’s law is a shield that officials hide their abuses behind. I have no words to describe my anger!” The three netizens were tried after compiling and posting on the Internet a woman’s account in documents and videos of how her daughter died after being gang raped, and how the police covered up the crime.