Witness Abducted Before Trial of Blind Chinese Rights Activist

By Gu Qing-er & Li Shiying, Epoch Times Staff
November 28, 2006 Updated: November 28, 2006

The retrial of blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng began on November 27 at Yinan County Court, Shandong Province. The day before the trial, on November 26, police abducted one witness, and local thugs blocked the lawyer's final inspection of the crime scenes. (Chen was convicted in an earlier trial, but that verdict was overturned on appeal.)

Attorney Li Fangping told an Epoch Times reporter that during the court session, the prosecution was basically in a completely passive mode. Their evidence was mostly illegally obtained or fabricated, and they never did their own investigation. The defense attorneys were confident that Chen would be found innocent yet again.

This morning, November 28, attorneys Li Jinsong, Li Fangping, and Teng Biao together with Chen Guangcheng's wife Yuan Weijing, Chen's mother and his eldest brother Chen Guangfu arrived in court in three cars separately. They had been followed by six unidentified cars since Sunday (November 26)

Today the three witnesses for the defense were able to testify without interruption. Li Fangping said that Chen Guangcheng also took the stand to defend himself and that his testimony was quite splendid.

Defense Lawyer Expelled From Courtroom

Attorney Li Fangping said he was interrupted by two disturbances which broke out in the courtroom. The judge later ordered him to leave the courtroom. Li was only allowed to return to the courtroom during the second half of the court session. By that time, the judge had agreed to allow the defending lawyers to complete their defense.

According to Li, the testimonies of the defense witnesses strongly support Chen's innocence. The judge tried to interrupt his defense by expelling him from the courtroom, a typical cheap local practice. However, after seeing that the defense lawyers could not be intimidated into compromising and that the defense's case was sound and reasonable, the judge decided to allow the defense to continue its case.

Chen's Wife Talks About the Court Session

Chen's wife Yuan Weijing said that she did not appear in court until afternoon. She was allowed to speak on two occasions. Only Chen's oldest brother was permitted to observe the proceedings; by contrast, around 40 law enforcement officers were allowed to be present.

Yuan told journalist that the trial was the first time she had seen her husband Chen since March. She said Chen seemed to have aged but appeared to be in good spirits. When asked about the outcome of the retrial, Yuan said, “I would not dare to predict, there are too many unpredictable factors.”

Witness Abducted and Lawyer's Final Crime Scene Inspection Blocked

Just one day before the court session, around 10:30 a.m., attorneys Li Jinsong, Li Fangping, Teng Biao and witnesses went to Dongshigu village to do a final inspection of the crime scene of the case. They met with violent obstruction by more than 30 local thugs. During the conflict, lawyers and witnesses were beaten. According to local villagers, some of the “thugs” were actually from local Yinan police criminal investigation team.

Li said they called the police numerous times, but no police appeared.

Another witness,s Chen Gengjiang, was taken away by the head of the local police crime investigation team in the early morning hours of November 26.

Earlier this year, 36-year-old rights activist Chen Guangcheng was illegally sentenced, according to the appeals court, to 4 years and 3 months imprisonment for exposing the local authorities' violent birth control practices and its brutal abuse of women. In October, appeals court overturned the guilty verdict against Chen, sending the case back to the county-level court for a retrial.