Chen Kegui’s family also point out that the appointed lawyers come from the same firms as the two lawyers who had been appointed for Chen Guangcheng in his 2006 trial. The 2006 lawyers, the family charges, completely failed to defend Chen Guangcheng. It was that trial that landed Chen Guangcheng in prison for four years and three months on conviction of “intentional damage of public property” and “gathering people to block traffic.” The family urges that the two appointed lawyers withdraw from the case.
Chen Guangcheng, now in the United States as a visiting fellow at New York University School of Law, issued a separate statement on July 24, 2012, to protest the appointment of the legal aid lawyers.
Human Rights in China has translated the statement by Chen Kequi’s family into English, and has posted the original Chinese on Citizens’ Square.
Statement of the Family of Chen Kegui on Rejecting Two Officially-appointed Lawyers
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
July 23, 2012
In the early morning of April 27, 2012, Shuanghou Township head Zhang Jian (张健) led more than 20 people to break into our home without producing any documentation. They started beating Chen Kegui and his mother and recklessly destroyed our family’s property. Chen Kegui was forced to defend himself, and in the course of doing so caused the injury of Zhang Jian and others. Chen Kegui immediately called 110 to report the incident to the police and surrendered himself. He was later criminally detained on charges of “intentional homicide.”
We have formally retained Si Weijiang (斯伟江) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) to serve as Chen Kegui’s defense lawyers. However, when they requested a meeting with Chen Kegui, they were informed that the Yi’nan Legal Aid Center* had already appointed Song Kuiyuan (宋奎远) and Wang Haijun (王海军) as Chen’s lawyers. This is legally baseless, and we absolutely cannot accept it.
According to the Criminal Procedure Law, close family members of criminal suspects or defendants have the right to retain lawyers on their behalf. Our family has already retained two lawyers, and the Yi’nan County Public Security Bureau is forcing their appointed lawyers upon him, which 1) is a waste of the country’s legal aid resources, and 2) deprives our family of our right to retain the lawyers of our choosing. These two appointed lawyers are from Shandong Tongli Xingguo Law Firm and Shandong Yangdu Law Firm. These are exactly the same two firms that the lawyers who had been forcibly appointed by the Yi’nan Legal Aid Center for Chen Guangcheng in 2006 came from. Both of Chen Guangcheng’s lawyers’ demeanors were vile. They completely failed to defend Chen Guangcheng’s rights during the trial, and made no attempt to conceal their compliance with all kinds of procedural violations by the prosecution and the court.
Chen Kegui’s case will only follow suit. Contravening the wishes of Chen Kegui himself as well as his family to appoint these lawyers makes it impossible for the lawyers we have retained to provide Chen Kegui with legal aid or defense. This will have an extremely negative effect on the impartiality of the case. We have grounds to be worried. Barring the family-retained lawyers from the judicial procedure at the earliest point possible serves to conceal the true facts of the case, including retaliatory law enforcement measures or torture that Chen Kegui may have suffered.
Legal aid is a mechanism established by the government to provide free legal services to the economically disadvantaged or to those involved in unusual cases. However, certain public authorities such as the public security, the procuratorate, or the judiciary maliciously exploit the legal aid system. In recent years, “obedient” appointed lawyers were forced upon criminal suspects or defendants not in need of legal aid in several cases that garnered public attention (those of Yang Jia [杨佳], Yang Zaixin [杨在新] in Beihai, Li Qinghong [黎庆洪] in Guizhou), thereby removing from them lawyers whom they trusted, who would dare to speak out, and who were genuinely capable of safeguarding the rights of their clients. This was done in order to conceal the truth, to toy with procedures, and to manipulate the trial. This seriously infringed upon citizens’ procedural rights and distorted the legal aid system. This should give us sufficient warning.
As Chen Kegui’s family, we firmly oppose forcible appointments of lawyers by the relevant departments, and we strongly urge that Song Kuiyuan and Wang Haijun immediately withdraw from the case. If not, there will be no justice to speak of from the moment the case begins.
Chen Guangfu (陈光福), Chen Kegui’s father
Ren Zongju (任宗举), Chen Kegui’s mother
Liu Fang (刘芳), Chen Kegui’s wife
Drafted by: Teng Biao (滕彪), Li Fangping (李方平), Liu Weiguo (刘卫国)