lawyer Li Zhuang , 48, with the Beijing Kangda Law Firm,
has been convicted and sentenced on 8 January 2010 to two and a half years for
fabricating evidence and interfering with witness testimonies by the
Chongqing Jiangbei district court. The court said Li had instructed Gong
to falsely claim that police tortured him for confessions, directed
another lawyer to bribe police and incited Gong's wife and his employees
to give false testimonies. Li is
expected to appeal and he said that "even
if I don't appeal, 160,000 lawyers in China will do that for me".
lawyer, Li Zhuang, of the Beijing
Kangda law firm, is one of several high-profile criminal defense
lawyers brought in to represent some of the alleged top gangsters in the
Chongqing crackdown, which to date has resulted in the arrests of more
than 800 people. Li was representing Gong Gangmo, who faces a long list
of charges including murder, leading a criminal organization, drug
dealing and gun-running. Li Zhuang is
alledgely reported to have promised him lighter punishment if he lied
about his confession.
arrested and criminally detained on 13 december after defending Gong in Chongqing on
suspicion of “falsification of evidence” and “obstruction of justice”
after he visited his client Gong Gangmo in Chongqing. According to
sources, when Lawyer Li visited Gong, the meetings were under the
surveillance of the Chongqing
public security. The authorities had also ignored Lawyer Li’s right to
meeting his client and reading legal bundles.
scandal began a week after Chongqing
No.1 Intermediate Court delayed Gong’s
courttrial, which was scheduled to be held on December 7. A new trial date has
not been set. According to reports, Gong reported to the public security
and Lawyer Li was accused of abetting his client to provide false
evidence and conspiring with other witnesses and abetting his client to
provide false evidence that Gong was beaten under interrogation. However,
public security officers were present during Lawyer Li’s three meetings
with Gong and four public security officers were present during the last
meeting. The last meeting was videotaped. As the meetings were under
tight surveillance, it was suspicious how Lawyer Li would commit the
crime as an experienced lawyer. It is apparently another example that the
procuratorate authorities use Article 306 of the Criminal Law of the
People’s Republic of China to curb on lawyers’ right to collecting
was not only under tight surveillance when he met with Gong and in fact,
he was not allowed to meet with Gong for many times before, which
violated Article 33 of the PRC Law on Lawyers and Article 96 of the PRC
Criminal Procedure Law. Lawyer Li was also repeatedly not allowed to read
the legal bundles of the case, but was only allowed to photocopy the
“major evidence” which apparently violated Article 34 of the PRC Law on
Lawyers that stipulated that defense lawyers had the right to read and
photocopy all the documents related to the case being handled.
Li's lawyer, Gao Zicheng, who represented
Shanghai's former Party chief Chen Liangyu in his corruption case, said
Li will plead not guilty. The trial is expected to last eight days,
reported Southern Metropolis Daily today.
All eight witnesses, including Li's client Gong who reported the matter
to police, will not appear at the trial because they refused to testify
in court, Gao told the newspaper.
Gao said it was strange that the court rushed the case into trial only
one day after the prosecutors filed suit. He said it left him little time
to conduct his client's defense.
Chen Jiuhong, vice head of Chongqing Jiangbei District Prosecutors, told
China Youth Daily that there was no material evidence that Li advised his
client to lie. The arrest was based on Gong's testimony, he said.
Li's arrest attracted controversy as he was the first lawyer to be
brought down in Chongqing's crackdown on criminal rings. His case also
raised concerns of judicial independence in the massive campaign.
nationwide have heavily criticized a 5,000-word article in China Youth
Daily on Dec 14 as it branded Li a liar before he had a chance to clear
his name in court.
treatment has infuriated a group of mainly Beijing lawyers, who have
written a letter demanding police from outside of Chongqing be bought in
to investigate the case, which they say has defamed their entire
The Beijing Lawyers' Association (BLA) called for calm in the capital and
in a press release said: "A person's guilt is judged by the judicial
authority on the basis of facts and law." A group of 20 lawyers are
calling on Beijing to investigate the arrest of a defence lawyer
representing an alleged gang boss, and to take a closer look at the
massive crackdown on organised crime in Chongqing. The letter was signed
by lawyers in Beijing, Guangdong,
and was mailed to the government-sponsored All China Lawyers Association
and Beijing Lawyers Association . The letter was sent to the Standing
Committee of the National People’s Congress and the Ministry of Public
Security one day after a five-person team from the Beijing Lawyers
Association (BLA) arrived in Chongqing on December 15th to
investigate. The team left after telling
the local public security bureau and procuratorate that "the
association hopes and believes Chongqing judicial authorities will deal
with Li's case in accordance with the law". The authorities did not
allow the Beijing team to meet Li but assured them that the accused
lawyer was "physically healthy and emotionally stable",
according to a BLA member quoted in Beijing News. BLA and Kangda Law Firm
have referred a defense attorney to Li's family, the association said.
authorities violated laws by detaining the lawyer while many facts of the
case were unclear, and demanded authorities recognize Li’s rights. Li
Fangping, a Beijing lawyer, said lawyers
were just one group who had lost their rights since Chongqing began its crackdown on gangs.
Early last year Chongqing launched a 100-day campaign, during which
police arrested 10,000 people - 100 per day. In his letter, signed by 20 other
lawyers, Li Fangping urged Chongqing to heed advice that "the
crackdown on gangs does not mean cracking down like gangs".
Xiongbing, one of three draftees of a letter to Beijing, said Li Zhuang's arrest marked
the lowest point in the crackdown. Li Xiongbing told the South China
Morning Post that Chongqing
police should no longer handle the case. "[They] have taken too many
illegal steps during the crackdown and this case was their nadir,"
he said. In the letter, the lawyers said Chongqing police had repeatedly
rejected Li Zhuang's application to see his client before the trial. When
he was permitted, four officers were present and the conversation was
taped. Li Zhuang was also prevented from examining all the evidence.
said Chongqing police should
notify the local lawyers association of a detention within 24 hours, but
the Beijing association knew nothing about it […] In response to
questions over why officers were present when Li Zhuang met Gong, Chongqing
police chief Wang Lijun said police were merely following Ministry of
Public Security guidelines for organised crime cases […] Gong has said Li
Zhuang winked at him to suggest he lie about being forced into a
confession. Gong and his co-defendants are accused of involvement in four
murders, possession of 15 firearms and loan-sharking, among other crimes.
letter, Beijing lawyer Zhang Kai claimed he and another lawyer Li Chunfu
were illegally detained and tortured by Chongqing police in May.
Chen Youxi, vice-president of the All China
Lawyers' Association's constitutional and human rights committee, wrote
on the association's website last week that the story had
"irresponsibly and ignorantly defamed Chinese legal
practitioners". The paper's staff had turned a news report into news
commentary that showed self-importance, violating the basic principles of
journalism, he said.
The Kangda law firm is a leading law firm based in mainland China, whose history can be dated
back to 1988. Since its founding in Beijing,
the capital of China,
Kang Da has been committed to building a seamless nationwide network of
branch offices. Recently, Kang Da
has also devoted its efforts in building strong ties with a number of
world-renowned firms based in US, UK, France, Australia, Singapore, etc.
it was directly under China’s
Ministry of Justice. With over 100 licensed lawyers and 10 branch
offices, Kang Da has been actively involved in a wide range of legal
services, as well as the very front of China’s legal reform. Its founder, Fu Yang, the senior
partner of Kang Da, is the son of Peng Zhen, chairman of the National
People's Congress in the 1980s. Mr. Fu Yang is also the Vice President of All China
arrest has dragged Kang Da Law Firm, one of the country's biggest, into
the spotlight. Fu has declined to comment, but Xing Jun, director of the
firm's general office, said Kang Da supported the crackdown and would
tighten internal management […] Li Xiongbing said the arrest was a
warning to other defence lawyers, and a way to protect police against
illegal actions in the crackdown.
reported that the Beijing Lawyers Association (BLA) was very concerned
about Lawyer Li’s case. It should be the obligation of the BLA to protect
its members’ interests. Lawyer Li’s case is currently under
investigation. Jiang Junlu, vice president of BLA, said if found guilty,
Li will lose his license and membership. But if Li was only doing his job
as a defense lawyer, the association will defend him. If Lawyer Li would
be convicted, his legal practice license would be suspended, which meant
he will no longer be able to continue his legal practice.
Because Chongqing authorities have a direct interest in the
case, national authorities should have granted jurisdiction to an outside
police bureau, but Li’s appeal to the local court in Chongqing asking to move the trial
outside of the southwestern municipality was turned down. Li Zhuang will
soon stand trial in Chongqing
on allegations of fabricating evidence and disrupting a gang-related
trial, a local court official said.
The lawyers, many of whom were already in the hot seat, have been sharply
criticized since Li’s case broke. Many of them have been condemned by
netizens as “evil advisers” and some bloggers hailed Li’s arrest as an
“uplifting moment” and said he deserved it. Qiu Geping, a professor of
criminology at the Shanghai-based East China University of Political
Science and Law, said lawyers who choose to defend suspects face
considerable pressure caused by the local government’s stance.
Just one week after Li's arrest, the director of Chongqing's justice
bureau, Lin Yujun, required about 1,000 lawyers from nine urban districts
of the city to attend a conference
to "consider the general political situation and comply with
discipline during the special gang sweep".
Approximately 500 lawyers were detained
between 1997 and 2002 for any
reason, and more than 100 lawyers have specifically been accused of
violating Article 306 by fabricating evidence. Of these Article 306
cases, more than 90 percent have been cleared. This statistic implies
that the statute is often invoked improperly or misused by officials
attempting to silence defense lawyers. This has resulted in both
imprisonment and the revocation of lawyers' licenses to practice. For
example, Ma Guangjun was convicted of fabricating evidence in 2003 and
detained for 210 days because the witnesses he produced changed their
testimony and admitted to fabricating evidence after being interrogated
by the police. Article 306 unnecessarily singles out lawyers in light of
other Criminal Law provisions regarding fabrication of evidence.
TAKE ACTION NOW !
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in
Chinese or your own language:
- calling on the
authorities to abolish this law
to protect lawyers’ rights.
- urging them to ensure he has
access to legal assistance of his choosing, his family and any medical
attention he may require;
- urging the authorities to
guarantee that Wang Yonghang will not be tortured or otherwise
- calling on them to end the
use of vaguely-defined charges relating to "state secrets" to
crack down on human rights defenders.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:
Director of the Liaoning
Provincial Department of Public Security
LI Wenxi Tingzhang
2 Qishan Zhonglu
People's Republic of China
Salutation: Dear Director
Director of the Liaoning
Provincial Department of Justice
Zhang Jiacheng Tingzhang
28 Jia Chongshan Donglu
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 24 86906792
Salutation: Dear Director
And copies to:
WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli
The State Council General
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 65961109
Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to diplomatic
representatives accredited to your country.