Justice Postponed for Internet Activists – Again
The high-profile court hearing of three Chinese Internet activists who had posted evidence regarding a murder case, lasted less than a minute when the prosecution requested more time to gather evidence. Several hundred Internet users from across China had gathered outside the courtroom in support of the defendants.
On the morning of March 19 in Fuzhou, a city in southern China’s Fujian Province, the three activists, Ms. Fan Yanqiong, Mr. You Jingyou, and Ms. Wu Huaying, were faced with the charge of “making false allegations.” They had posted materials regarding the rape and murder of 25-year-old Yan Xiaoling that had occurred in February 2008.
The materials, which were posted in June 2009, included an article and video testimony from the victim’s mother who alleged that her daughter was raped in turn by eight policemen and government officials and died the same night.
When family members questioned the cause of her death, they were told she died of an ectopic pregnancy. Yan’s mother alleged that police had removed her womb and vagina to destroy evidence.
The article and video clip spread quickly on popular Chinese Web forums. The Fujian Provincial Police Department held a press conference to announce that their investigation found that Yan died of an ectopic pregnancy. Soon after that, Fan, You, and Wu were detained by Fujian police.
Lawyer accuses court of ‘hooligan tactics’
According to defense lawyer Mr. Liu Xiaoyuan, the Fujian Provincial legislature had mobilized hundreds of police, including many in plain clothes, for the court session.
Liu said he was furious about the extension—the second time an extension had been granted to the prosecution.
He said that the court should have refused the prosecutor's request and had good reason to do so. He accused the court of “hooligan tactics” by asking him to travel all the way from Beijing with the promise that a decision would be made.
If the court had truly been planning to make a decision, everything should have been prepared a few days ago. “Therefore, the prosecutor must have already discussed the request for a further extension with the court,” Liu said.
“According to regulations regarding criminal lawsuits, if the Procurator has insufficient evidence, then it is incumbent on the court to acquit the accused of all charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence,” he said.
Human rights activist Wang Lihong had come from Beijing to show his support. He told The Epoch Times that 400 to 500 people were there holding banners with slogans such as “Justice shines brighter than the sun.”
Wang said the police were rude and violent, and sometimes it was unclear whether they were police or possibly gangsters. When asked to show their police identity cards, they refused.
A nephew of one of the accused was beaten, and his camera was snatched.
One of the accused, Ms. Fan Yanqiong, complained that she did not get a chance to see her mother since she was dragged back out of the courtroom immediately. “At the previous trial, my mother was breathing through an oxygen mask and sitting in a wheelchair. I am very worried about my mother's physical condition,” she told The Epoch Times.
Ms. Fan is herself paralyzed from the waist down, but her application for parole on medical grounds was not granted, according to Mr. Wang.
The case was first tried on Nov. 11, 2008. The court could not come to a decision despite exceeding the normal legal custody period. The defendant's lawyer questioned the extended custody period, but the court claimed that this was approved, and the case had to be further investigated by the People's Procurator.
When Liu requested to meet with his clients, he was denied by the police who cited “national security” reasons.
Liu said the case has created “two firsts” in China—the defendants were detained and charged with making false allegations for posting materials related to a murder case on the Internet, and the case was classified as one involving state secrets.