Hundreds of lawyers and rights activists are calling for an independent investigation into the alleged beating of Beijing-based lawyer Cui Hui by court officials in the Chinese capital.
Cui, 51, says she was attacked by judges and bailiffs at the Tongzhou District People's Court on the outskirts of Beijing on April 2 after she went to enquire after a case that should have been resolved two years earlier.
"I represented and won a civil commercial case two years ago in which 3.3 million yuan (U.S. $532.6) was confiscated [by the court]," Cui said.
"Two years had gone by, and there had still been no movement from the Tongzhou District People's Court to implement the release of the money," she said.
Cui, who works for the Beijing Hengqing law firm, said she had already issued the relevant applications via the Tongzhou district state prosecution service, but they failed to respond.
"So I went to follow it up with the court, but I was attacked," she said.
According to Cui's account, relayed in a statement by the oveseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), judges Yang Yu and Lai Xiulin assaulted Cui at the Tongzhou District People's Court after she went to file a complaint with the procuratorate about the court's unresponsiveness.
"Lai Xiulin punched her in the face, and when she fled downstairs, she encountered Yang Yu, who refused to help her and instead told two court bailiffs, whom she could not identify, to beat her," the group said in an e-mailed statement.
"The beating only ended when a female judge in the courthouse assisted Cui and promised to alert the head of the court."
Cui was later treated at Beijing Tongren Hospital for injuries to her eyes, face, back, neck and limbs, CHRD said.
Although she later filed complaints and reports to local police, lawyers' associations, prosecutors, and the ruling Chinese Communist Party's discipline inspection arm, no official action has been taken, the group said.
‘Pattern of increased violence’
According to CHRD, the assault on Cui "follows a pattern of increased violence against Chinese human rights attorneys while they conduct their work."
The group dismissed a promise by the court on April 13 to conduct an investigation into the incident, saying the court shouldn't investigate the behavior of its own staff.
Beijing lawyers say the Tongzhou district police are at fault for failing to detain the alleged perpetrators pending a medical assessment of Cui's injuries.
Meanwhile, lawyers for detained rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang have raised further fears for his health after was denied medical treatment by authorities in the Beijing No. 1 Detention Center where he is being held.
According to his lawyer Shang Baojun, who visited Pu on Thursday, the lawyer is suffering from prostate problems which have led to insomnia, on top of a host of other medical issues.
"He has to take daily medication to control his blood sugar and blood pressure drugs, such as hypertension drugs and insulin injections," Shang told RFA.
"He said he was suffering a bit from prostatitis, which was the first time he has mentioned it, and it seems to be troubling him because he isn't sleeping at night," he said.
"But he isn't receiving medication for the prostatitis," Shang said.
He has been arguing about this with the prison doctor."
Detained last May
Pu, 50, was detained last May, initially on charges of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," and "illegally obtaining personal information." But police later added the more serious charges of "inciting separatism" and "incitement to subvert state power" to the list.
Pu's defense team has repeatedly accused the authorities of "deliberate delays" to the case, which has been sent back for further investigation by the state prosecution service twice, without proceeding to trial.
His arrest came as dozens of activists and family members of victims of the 1989 crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy movement were also detained ahead of the sensitive 25th anniversary of the bloodshed.
According to a recent report by CHRD, reports of violence against China's embattled legal profession reached their highest level in 2014, with seven prominent rights lawyers behind bars at the end of that year.
Reported by Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.