An informed source told Human Rights in China that on October 28, the first day of the trial of three asset transparency advocates in Jiangxi Province—Liu Ping (刘萍), Wei Zhongping (魏忠平), and Li Sihua (李思华)—the defendants and their families terminated the client-lawyer relationship in protest of the court’s failure to guarantee the lawyers’ rights to defend the accused. The court, in Yushui District, Xinyu City (新余市渝水区), adjourned the proceeding until new lawyers are appointed.
The defendants were detained on April 28, 2013, following their protest on April 21 in Xinyu calling for public disclosure of officials’ assets and the release of political prisoners. They were indicted on July 2 on the charge of “illegal assembly” (非法集会). In September, two new charges were added against Liu Ping and Wei Zhongping: “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).
Before the trial, the lawyers—Zhang Xuezhong (张雪忠), Zheng Jianwei (郑建伟), Liu Jinbin (刘金滨), Chen Guangwu (陈光武), Pang Kun (庞琨), and Li Jinxing (李金星)—had pressed for the release of the defendants on the basis that the court had not tried or rendered a verdict within the three-month limit after accepting the case as is required by law. (See Criminal Procedure Law, Article 202.) According to notes taken by the defense lawyers of a pre-trial conference with the court on October 14, the presiding judge told the lawyers that the court would not provide an explanation for the prolonged detention without trial and that the lawyers should go review the law themselves.
A family member of one of the defendants who attended the trial today said that Li Ping looked extremely thin, and Li Sihua said in court that he was severely beaten during detention but was interrupted by the judge.
HRIC sources and Weibo postings provided additional details on the day of the trial: there was a considerable police presence around the court house and in the train station in Xinyu; police attempted to obstruct the defense lawyers in front of the court, causing them to arrive to the courtroom late; at least eight individuals who had planned to observe the trial were intercepted on their way to or detained in Xinyu; one of Liu Sihua’s lawyers, Pang Kun, was briefly detained at a police station in Xinyu when he arrived but was released later that day; an activist in his 60s was briefly detained in the afternoon of October 27 and forcibly returned to Guangzhou in the early morning of October 28.
For more information on Liu Ping, see: