China Human Rights Briefing: Special Edition
May 22, 2012
Lawyers for Chen Kegui Challenge Local Police’s Unlawful Obstruction of Efforts to Defend Client
CHRD has obtained a letter addressed to the police chief of the Yinan County Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Shandong Province contesting the police’s unlawful interference in their efforts to defend Chen Kegui (陈克贵), the nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng(陈光诚), who arrived in the U.S. this past weekend, having escaped from unlawful house arrest. Chen Kegui was formally arrested two weeks ago on suspicion of “intentional homicide.” The letter (full Chinese text below) is written by lawyer Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) of the Beijing Mo Shaoping Firm on behalf of himself and another lawyer Si Weijiang (斯伟江) of the Shanghai Dabang Law Firm, both of whom have been authorized by Chen Kegui’s wife to represent her husband.
In the early morning of April 27, Chen Kegui reportedly grabbed kitchen knives to defend his family against intruding local officials and thugs who came to his home following their discovery that Chen Guangcheng had escaped from his home. Chen Kegui reportedly went into hiding before being apprehended by police officers from the Yinan County PSB, and he was formally arrested on May 9. Later that day, Chen Kegui sent a text message to his wife, Liu Fang (刘芳), which said “Hire lawyers for me.”
According to the letter, Chen Kegui’s wife retained Ding and Si on May 11 to represent her husband after two other lawyers she had hired, Liu Weiguo (刘伟国) and Chen Wuquan (陈武权), were intimidated and harassed by authorities; Guangdong judicial officials went so far as to suspend Chen Wuquan’s license to practice law. Upon entering the case, lawyers Ding and Si sent a request to the Yinan County PSB to ask for a meeting with their detained client. When Ding first contacted Yinan police by phone, he was told that Liu Fang must appear in person with the lawyers at the police station to file the authorization paperwork and request a meeting with Chen Kegui, or else the authorization would not be recognized. However, Ding told the police that their demand “had no legal basis.” With Liu Fang in hiding out of fear for her own safety, and having received threats herself, imposing this arbitrary requirement was tantamount to denying Chen Kegui access to counsel. To date, Chen Kegui has not been permitted to meet with any lawyer of his own choosing.
On May 18, two days after Ding had gone to Yinan and had tried, to no avail, to meet with his client, he finally was able speak with two Yinan PSB police officers, who informed Ding that Chen Kegui had accepted government-appointed legal aid attorneys before May 10 (Ding and Si were retained on May 11). When Ding asked to meet Chen in person—in order to verify this claim and allow Chen an opportunity to choose who wanted to represent him—police officials rejected the request, claiming it “did not accord with legal regulations.” That same day, Si called the Yinan Legal Aid Center to verify the police’s claim, but the person who answered the phone there said he was not aware of the matter, and thus could not provide the names of the appointed lawyers.
In their letter, Ding and Si challenge the legality of the Yinan PSB’s rejection of them as the family-authorized lawyers for Chen Kegui and their refusal to allow them to meet with Chen Kegui: “We believe your Bureau’s conduct violates the Criminal Procedural Law of the People’s Republic of China and other administrative and legal regulations, and seriously violates the legal rights of Chen Kegui and lawyers’ lawful rights to carry out their profession.”
The letter also points out that the procedure used by the police in appointing “legal aid” lawyers for Chen was flawed. Both the Legal Aid Regulations (Article 15) and the Provisions on Legal Aid Work in Criminal Cases (Article 16) require that a detained suspect’s application for legal aid must be submitted to a legal aid agency within 24 hours, and that detention centers must notify detainees’ legal representatives or close relatives and provide all documents and case files necessary for legal aid applicants. The Yinan County Detention Center, where Chen Kegui is being held, violated these provisions when it failed to notify Chen’s family or his family-appointed lawyers.
Citing Article 23 of China’s Legal Aid Regulations, Ding argues that he and Si are Chen Kegui’s lawful attorneys, having been authorized by Chen’s wife to represent her husband, and that the “appointed legal aid lawyers” should stop providing ”legal assistance” to Chen.
Finally, the lawyers request the Yinan PSB chief to act according to the law and immediately arrange for them to meet with Chen for the sake of “protecting Chen Kegui’s legal rights and lawyers’ lawful rights to carry out their profession, and defend the credibility of the law.” They urge the police chief to “understand the law correctly in good faith, and to fairly and strictly enforce the law,” which is beneficial for protecting both Chen’s legal rights and rule of law in China.
Original Chinese text of the letter:
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