China Indicts Gao Zhisheng in Secret, Turns Away His Legal Team


2006-12-11
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Gao Zhisheng. Image courtesy of Gao Zhisheng.

HONG KONG—Authorities in the Chinese capital have formally sent the case of Beijing-based lawyer Gao Zhisheng to a mid-level city court, but officials are refusing to specify the charges against him, saying only that they involve “state secrets.”

Gao’s lawyers have also been refused repeated requests for a meeting with Gao and told that he doesn’t wish to have legal representation at all, they told RFA’s Mandarin and Cantonese services.

Lawyer Mo Shaoping, who was appointed to defend Gao by his brother Gao Zhiyi, said state prosecutors had repeatedly ignored or avoided requests by him and fellow lawyer Ding Xikui for a formal meeting with Gao, and attempts to serve documents confirming their instruction to act on his behalf.

“From a lawyer’s point of view, the procuratorate has acted against the law,” Mo told Mandarin service reporter Fang Yuan. “According to the Criminal Guidelines for the Procuratorate, the prosecutor is bound to hear the opinions of the defense lawyer.”

Instead, the No.1 branch of the Beijing municipal procuratorate had sent the case to the city’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, he said. One police officer told Mo that the reason the authorities hadn’t specified charges against Gao was because they involved “state secrets.”

“They did not carry this out in the correct sequence, and effectively they have stripped Gao of his right to see a lawyer. So they are in contravention of the law,” he said.

Lawyers 'not required'

On Dec. 6, Mo made an attempt to submit his instruction papers to the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court, and put in another request to meet Gao. Judge Wang He and the official in charge of Gao case, Jia Lianchun, told Mo and Ding that Gao had refused legal representation.

The judge told them not to contact the court again.

Mo said: “All we had was a verbal message from Gao. There was nothing in writing. This makes me quite suspicious that it isn’t true.”

She didn't know what the police had done to get him to say that...so we really have no way of knowing what Gao's real intentions are.

He said he had already written to the court to complain about the matter. “It’s really not fair to only give a verbal response in this case with no documentation. And we won’t know whether or not it came from Gao himself until we see him,” he added.

Meanwhile, court official Gu told RFA’s Cantonese service he was unable to answer queries on Gao’s case owing to “internal regulations.”

Calls to the procuratorate office during office hours went unanswered.

Gao's true intentions unknown

According to civil rights activist and friend of Gao’s Hu Jia, Gao’s wife was given unprecedented permission to visit her husband on Dec. 6.

“Gao told Geng He that he didn’t want to hire a lawyer, which she really couldn’t understand,” Hu said. “She didn’t know what the police had done to get him to say that...so we really have no way of knowing what Gao’s real intentions are.”

Gao lost his law license after he criticized the government for its treatment of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

He also began a rolling hunger strike earlier in the year to protest the ill-treatment of lawyers and rights activists at the hands of police and local government officials.

The protest began in reaction to the beating of top Guangdong rights lawyer Guo Feixiong. Guo was a close associate of Gao, and both lawyers had worked on a number of sensitive cases, including the Taishi village standoff in the southern province of Guangdong last year.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Fang Yuan and in Cantonese by Grace Kei Lai-see. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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