|Counsel deplores ‘criminal’ trial of graft activists
Lawyers representing two Chinese anti-graft activists walked out of a Beijing courtroom in protest today. One of them denounced the trial proceedings as “criminal.’’
Sui Muqing and Jiang Yuanmin, two human rights lawyers representing members of a loose-knit activist network called the New Citizens Movement, withdrew their counsel on the second day of the trial, they told AFP.
The prosecution is the latest strike by Beijing authorities against the New Citizens Movement, a network of activists whose dinner discussions and small-scale protests calling for official disclosure of assets have drawn the anger of China's Communist authorities.
“They are conducting an unabashedly illegal trial, which is totally unacceptable,'' Sui told AFP. “I think the trial is a kind of criminal activity.
“They fined me for disrupting the court order, but in fact, the court itself has no justice at all,'' he added.
Sui, who represented activist Ding Jiaxi, and Jiang, whose client was co-defendant Li Wei, both said they left the courtroom in Beijing's Haidian district after they were presented with photocopies of evidence against their clients rather than originals.
“They were all copies. We demanded that the court show us the originals. The court refused,'' Jiang told AFP. “This goes against the requirements of Chinese law.''
The court also prevented the defense from calling witnesses and did not allow any journalists or foreign diplomats to observe the trial, they said. The only observers allowed from the defendants' side were Li's parents, Sui noted.
A key leader of the movement, Xu Zhiyong, was sentenced in January to four years in prison for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order.’’
Ding and Li face the same charge.