On March 4, 2005, the Shanghai Juridical Bureau discussed a sentencing hearing for the renowned Beijing human rights attorney, Guoding Guo. After the hearing, The Epoch Times called Mr. Guo on his cell phone, but Mr. Guo mentioned that he was no longer allowed to speak, obviously under duress from the authorities.
In response, we interviewed Guo’s defense attorney, Wei Rujiu, and Attorney Gao Zhisheng, who will likely be involved with this case. The following is the interview:
Reporter: Attorney Wei, you just came from the hearing. Could you talk about the hearing?
Attorney Wei: According to the law, a sentencing hearing is required to impose punishment. This hearing, however, was very short. Representatives from the Shanghai Juridical Bureau submitted Guo’s information, including Guo’s court speech, recordings and media interviews. Guo admitted to everything and then we briefly discussed a few points. The hearing then ended.
Reporter: What is the next step?
Attorney Wei: According to procedures, the Shanghai Juridical Bureau will, in the next two weeks, make a decision on the sentencing. Based on that decision, we will then decide whether to appeal or on other courses of action.
Reporter: What’s the charge?
Attorney Wei: It’s not really a charge but rather a claim that the actions of the accused were against the law. According to a member of the Shanghai Juridical Bureau, specific examples of unlawful actions included Guo’s petition and articles which criticized the current social system. The Shanghai Juridical Bureau said that they were unlawful because they went against the Four Cardinal Principles of the constitution. In one instance, Guo suggested that someone who is not a member of the Communist Party should be handling the case.
Reporter: Attorney Guo said that it was not convenient for him to accept an interview. Is it because he is prohibited from doing so?
Attorney Wei: Attorney Guo is currently in a very difficult situation. For a devoted attorney like Guo, such punishments are truly atrocious. He made all his comments because of his love for the country and hoped that our country would become better. We should see it from his point of view.
Reporter: Why did you take on this case?
Attorney Wei: Attorney Guo is my friend and he is an outstanding attorney. I admire the amount of knowledge that he has in his profession and his patriotic spirit. I don’t want to see my friend appear alone at the hearing. It is because of these simple reasons that I chose to represent him.
Reporter: Could you introduce yourself to us?
Attorney Wei: I am a very ordinary attorney who lives in Beijing. I have not handled any important cases; I’m not at a high level nor am I well known. It’s because Attorney Guo is my friend that I represent him. There’s nothing more I can say about myself. We thank you all for paying attention to this case. We all hope that Attorney Guo will soon fare better.
(Talking to Attorney Gao)
Reporter: Attorney Gao, the last time we had an interview with Attorney Guo, we learnt that he was about to go through a divorce.
Attorney Gao: Our brutal system has caused much pain for many innocent people and it is the children that suffer the most.
Reporter: Attorney Wei just mentioned in our conversation that the Bureau has said that Guo had violated the Four Cardinal Principles.
Attorney Gao: The question is whether criticism of the principles is actually opposition to the principles. Is the intent really to overthrow the principles? These are basically two different concepts. Were the Four Cardinal Principles established to fundamentally restrict criticisms?
Reporter: What is your opinion on the outcome of the hearing?
Attorney Gao: Just like during Ye Guozhu’s cross examination, I told the judge that we were impartial because regardless of what we did, the sentence had already been decided. So no matter what Attorney Guo did or how we argued, the verdict of guilt was already determined, unless of course, the central government forcibly intervened. But what good would forceful intervention be? Last year, the central government did intervene in Zheng Enchong’s case but the bar-council of Shanghai took no heed.
Reporter: What will you do now?
Attorney Gao: Now that the hearing is over, a sentencing decision will be made. After the sentencing, we may appeal to the court.
Just after 9:00 am on February 23, 2005, over 10 representatives from the Shanghai Juridical Bureau broke into Attorney Guo’s office, recorded his attorney ID number, tricked him into handing over his attorney’s license, and seized the computers that were in the office.
In January 2005, a Chinese prison unreasonably denied Guo’s attempts to see prisoner Qu Yanlai four times. Qu had been on a hunger strike for 780 days. As a result, Guo angrily published an article on the internet called, “Not a single useful Chinese attorney.”
Right before the Chinese New Year, Guo sent a letter to the Justice Minister. In his letter, Guo appealed for the release of a prisoner in a vegetative state. Chen Guanghui, in Suzhou province, had been in a coma for seven months and required immediate medical attention. On yet another occasion, Guo was prevented from meeting with another client, Zhang Ling. The Shanghai Juridical Bureau has since begun persecuting Guo and insiders say that the three cases above are the probable causes of the Bureau’s action. The apparent purpose is to avenge Guo’s defense of illegally detained prisoners and Falun Gong practitioners.
The computers seized from Guo’s office contained over ten monographs that had taken Guo many years to write, countless precious defense materials, and articles related to politics and Falun Gong. Having seized the computers, the authorities will likely use them as “evidence.”
Guo regarded the protection of the Chinese people’s basic human rights as his responsibility. Despite police pressure and threats, Guo took on many cases related to illegally detained prisoners and Falun Gong practitioners. In recent years, Guo has defended many illegally detained prisoners in China, including Zheng Enchong, Qing Shuijun, Shi Tao, and Zhang Ling. In addition, Guo has defended Falun Gong practitioners such as Qu Yanlai, Chen Guanghui, and Lei Jiangtao, at their families’ request.