Top Chinese Civil Rights Lawyer Tried in Secret: Recordings

Gao Zhisheng. Image courtesy of Gao Zhisheng.

HONG KONG—Chinese authorities in Beijing have secretly tried a top Chinese civil rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, on unspecified subversion charges, but his family hasn't been informed of the verdict, his wife has said.

“I just returned home from lawyer Mo Shaoping’s office,” Geng He told a friend who recorded the conversation and gave it to RFA’s Mandarin service.

“They concluded his trial in secret this morning. The family had not been informed. Nor do we know the two court-appointed attorneys. We’ve never met them. We know nothing,” Geng said in the recording, which was made with her knowledge and consent.

Her telephone appeared to be out of order when RFA Mandarin service reporter Ding Xiao subsequently tried to contact her.

Mo, appointed to represent Gao by Gao’s brother Gao Zhiyi, confirmed in an interview that he had not received prior notice of the trial and wasn’t permitted to attend. He declined further comment.

But a Dec. 12 letter—co-signed with lawyer Ding Xikui, addressed to Gao’s brother and wife, and obtained by RFA—states the family-appointed lawyers learned Monday that Gao had been tried that morning in an “open” hearing by the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court.

Reported confession

The court has said it announced the time and venue of the trial on Dec. 9.

The two lawyers learned that the court appointed two defense attorneys to represent Gao at the trial, where Gao was said to have confessed to subversion charges against him, according to Mo’s letter. The “hyping” of Gao’s case by international media may adversely affect his sentence, the letter said.

In the same letter, lawyers Mo and Ding charged that the Beijing public security apparatus barred Gao Zhisheng from meeting with his lawyers during the investigative phase of the case because it “involved state secrets.”

I just returned home from lawyer Mo Shaoping’s office. They concluded his trial in secret this morning. The family had not been informed. Nor do we know the two court-appointed attorneys. We’ve never met them. We know nothing.

A judge identified as Wang He verbally informed lawyer Ding that “Gao Zhisheng refused to have any legal representation,” also documented in writing by the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court, the family-appointed lawyers wrote.

“The fact that the Court appointed two attorneys to represent him at the trial is something that defies common sense, logic, and the law,” they wrote.

“We cannot comment on the claim that at the trial Gao Zhisheng confessed to the charges of subversion because: We were unable to meet with Gao Zhisheng to know his view on the charges; we have not seen the written indictment and evidence presented by the prosecution regarding ‘subversion’; moreover, we did not attend the trial this morning,” they wrote.

Meetings prohibited

Calls to the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court went unanswered.

Earlier, Mo said state prosecutors had also stood in the way of a meeting between the lawyers and Gao. “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.”

“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 Monday.

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 Jia and the official in charge of Gao case, Gu Lianchun told Mo and Ding that Gao had refused legal representation. The judge told them not to contact the court again.

Meanwhile, court official Gu told RFA’s Cantonese service Monday 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 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 Ding Xiao and 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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