On day two of the trial of three asset transparency advocates in Jiangxi, eyewitness accounts and Weibo posts describe a large-scale verbal and physical assault on the defendants’ lawyers and relatives outside the Yushui District People’s Court in Xinyu, Jiangxi Province. Liu Ping (刘萍), Wei Zhongping (魏忠平), and Li Sihua (李思华) are being tried for “illegal assembly” (非法集会), following their public demonstration earlier this year demanding high-ranking officials to reveal their assets as a way to combat corruption. Liu and Wei face the additional charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” (聚众扰乱公共场所秩序), and “using an evil cult to undermine law enforcement” (利用邪教组织破坏法律实施). The trial is scheduled to continue tomorrow, December 5.
Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), one of the six defense lawyers, said in a Weibo post (which has since been deleted but is still available on freeweibo.com) that “There were about 200 people outside the court house who looked like workers, who verbally abused me, calling me a ‘hooligan lawyer,’ ‘traitor,’ and ‘scumbag of the Chinese people,’ while police officers looked on without taking any action.” (See below for a compilation of Weibo posts and translations by HRIC.) “All these years, I have become experienced in dealing with how they maintain stability inside and outside the court. But this was the first time that I have ever seen such helter-skelter outside the court,” said Pu.
Liu Ping’s daughter Liao Minyue (廖敏月) told HRIC that the three defendants were steadfast in their belief that their actions were in accordance with the law. Liao quotes Li Sihua as stating: “How can our gathering for meals and raising banners be considered ‘illegal assembly’? These are the rights of citizens protected by law, and we were fulfilling our obligations as citizens. How can we be found guilty for these actions?”
Pu also told HRIC that during the court proceeding, the three judges kept ordering recesses. “The judges themselves are not bad, but they could not make any decisions. They kept having to ask for instructions at every step of the way.” Pu said that despite President Xi Jinping’s earlier urging that people deserve fairness and justice in court, “The many new cases [against rights advocates] this year clearly show that our country is going backward” in judicial fairness.
The six defense lawyers are: for Liu Ping: Yang Xuelin (杨学林) and Si Weijiang (斯伟江); for Wei Zhongping: Yang Jinzhu (杨金柱) and Zhang Peihong (张培鸿); for Li Sihua：Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) and Zhou Ze (周泽).
Below is a compilation of select Weibo posts about the events surrounding the trial on December 4, including details of physical attacks on Liu Ping’s daughter and the defense lawyers, and summary English translations by HRIC. Many of the Weibo posts have already been deleted by censors but remain available on freeweibo.com.
Lawyer Zhouze reports that he went through 4 or 5 checkpoints on his way to the court, each manned by many police officers. The first checkpoint was as far as 1000 meters from the court:
One of the former lawyers, Li Jinxing (aka Wu Lei) reported that a large number of government-hired thugs were outside the court room and they verbally and physically assaulted the lawyers. The scene was very chaotic. Liu Ping's daughter called a supporter and told him that thugs in plainclothes assaulted the lawyers and other supporters. She herself was also beaten:
In a post already deleted from Weibo, lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said: December 4 is China’s Constitution Day. But our trial in Xinyu did not go well. All these years, I have become experienced in dealing with how they maintain stability inside the court. But this was the first time that I have ever seen such helter-skelter outside the court. There were about 200 people outside the court house who looked like workers, who verbally abused me, calling me a “hooligan lawyer,” “traitor,” a “scumbag of the Chinese people,” while police officers looked on without taking any action. Liu Weiguo forwarded a message saying someone incited a mob to attack the car carrying the lawyers and the car was kicked:
【新余恶势力缘何如此猖獗】 #新余案#（转贴）浦志強律師被围攻 众多五毛党围阻出庭辩护律师的车 谩骂 指责 一度有人煽动围观者砸车掀车 张培鸿律师说话也被围攻 ……周泽杨金柱律师在理论时亦被不明身份的人纠缠 车几次被人踢打脚踹……新余渝水区法院门口一幕，今日！(Deleted from Weibo.)
Another Weibo user reports that the court did not allow the lawyers' car into the court house but allowed the prosecutors' car to enter. The lawyers protested and wanted to enter the court room by car but were told by the traffic police that all cars are prohibited from entering the court compound, including the prosecutors' car:
【记录新余】 @愚言: 昨天律师的车不给进法院，公诉人的车就进去了。今天律师抗议，要开车进去，交警说今天交通管制，全部车都不能进法院，包括检察院的车。 昨天不管制今天管制，律师不满，引起矛盾，便衣借机起哄，有便衣拍刘萍女儿手机落地，造成混乱。(Deleted from Weibo.)
It is reported that Yang Jinzhu withdrew himself as the defense lawyer for Wei Zhongping in protest against the verbal abuse and physical intimidation he faced this morning outside the court. Perpetrators were unidentified men. Lawyer Zhouze said that the car carrying the six lawyers was obstructed at the third checkpoint this morning and the standoff lasted over an hour. The lawyers eventually had to leave the car and walk to the courthouse. They were verbally abused on the way. Lawyer Si Weijiang also reported on his Weibo that Yang Jinzhu left the courtroom in protest against the intimidation against him when he passed through a checkpoint this morning. Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was pushed and shoved around and lawyer Zhang Peihong was hit by a piece of mud. The judge threatened to deal with Liu Ping's daughter and brother after the trial ends. In tears, Liu Ping told her daughter to stay away from the trial. The daughter said: I am not afraid! After Yang Jinzhu withdrew, the court announced a one hour recess:
今天是12.4全国普法日。上午到法庭,发现沿途又多了一道防线。@律坛怪侠杨金柱 载着六名出庭律师的车第三到防线受阻,不能开到法院。僵持近一个小时后,律师被迫下车步行。下车后,律师受到围攻,"卖国贼"、"汉奸"、"流氓"等辱骂之声不绝于耳。开庭后,杨金柱律师退庭抗议司法不公。在律师抗议中三次休庭。(Deleted from Weibo.)
During recess, Liu Ping's daughter sent a photo to her supporters of her injuries after being beaten in the morning. She said there were several wounds on her body, her mobile phone was smashed, and her hand was bleeding. She said the defense lawyers were initially prevented from entering the court room but managed to do so after more than an hour of intense negotiation this morning.
Today, Weibo apparently shutdown the Weibo accounts of Zhang Xuezhong, Wu Lei, Si Weijiang (two), Liu Ping’s family and daughter , and Xiucaijianghu:
今天是12月4日,宪法宣传日。但是他们@张雪忠 @伍雷 @小斯在江西 @小斯在延安 @刘萍女儿 @刘萍家属 @秀才江湖2017 等因为江西新余的刘萍案,被直接销号,无法捍卫自己的宪法权利。新浪以特有的方式对宪法宣传日进行特有的“祭奠”。
Lawyer Yang Xuelin says the trial will resume tomorrow and that the rights of the defendants and defense lawyers were basically respected, which would not have been possible without the self-sacrifice of Yang Jinzhu:
For more information on Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, and Li Sihua, see: