Liuzhou court gives one-week, unofficial notice to lawyers in Hualin kindergarten trial after postponing trial a week earlier

Liuzhou police forced their way into Li
Jiatao’s home on the night of June 23.
(Photo: China Aid)

China Aid
By Rachel Ritchie

(Liuzhou, Guangxi—Feb. 4, 2015) The trial for four individuals in China’s southern Guangxi was postponed by the Liunan District Court on Jan. 23 until April 29, only to have officials belatedly change their minds on Jan. 30 and schedule the trial for Feb. 6.

Lawyers in the case believe the postponement and subsequent rescheduling are tactics intended to make the process of defending the four detainees as burdensome as possible. Recently, on Jan. 16, when the lawyers showed up to begin the trial, Liunan District Court officials insisted that they go through a security check, which the lawyers refused on the grounds that the check violated regional stipulations. As a result, the trial postponed.

Many of the lawyers defending Cheng Jie, Li Jiatao, Huang Quirui and Fang Bin, who were apprehended in February and June 2014 and charged with “illegal business operations,” have not received official notices of the new Feb. 6-court date and are elsewhere working on other cases.

“So far I have not received a call from the court,” Ge Yongxi, a lawyer hired to defend Cheng Jie, said. “I have only received a short text message. [The person who sent the message] didn’t tell me his name, and I can’t confirm that he is an employee of the court. All the lawyers are working on cases outside of Liuzhou. Some lawyers are negotiating with the court in hopes that they can change the date.”

Another lawyer, Lin Qilei, said he had received a call from the Liunan District Court.

“I said to [the caller] that on Feb. 6, I would be in Suzhou Intermediate Court [in Jiangsu]. He said that the notice was delivered through regular mail, and I said ‘I refuse to attend,’” Lin said.

“Feb. 6 is a Friday. It is impossible that the trial can be finished in one day. By doing this, I see that the court is intentionally making things inconvenient for us. Some of the other lawyers and I will not attend the trial. If the court dares to sentence them under these circumstances, we will use it in our appeal,” he said.

“Lawyer Li Guisheng, hired through Cheng Jie’s authorization, hasn’t received a notice so far,” Cheng’s husband, Du Hongbo, said. “Lin Qilei is supposed to be in court from Feb. 4-6. Li is also supposed to be in court during that time.”

“The two previous attempts at beginning the trial were failures caused by the employees of Liunan District Court, such as requiring the lawyers to go through a baseless security check. We are now applying for state compensation [to make up for the interruptions]. If the court still insists on the lawyers going through a security check, notifying us of the new trial date is meaningless.”

The indictment against the four defendants claims that they participated in the compilation and distribution of textbooks for profit under the instruction of Sun Haiping, the wife of the former Liangren Church pastor, both of who now live in the United States. The books, which aim to teach children good character, were used in the Hualin Experimental Foreign Language Kindergarten, which was founded by Liangren Church.

Authorities claim that because the books were published without book numbers, the approval of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, and a profit was made off their distribution, they are illegal.

However, the defendants and their lawyers insist that the books were used only within the kindergarten and that while a small fee was charged to students’ parents for the books, it merely covered the expense of printing.

Cheng, the kindergarten’s director, who was detained on Feb. 18, was allegedly in charge of distribution. Li Jiatao, a Liangren Church member is said to have been in charge of the income and expenses related to the books while church elder Huang Quirui was in charge of shipping the books. Meanwhile, Fang Bin was contracted to print the books. The latter three were detained by Liuzhou Public Security Bureau agents on the night of June 23 from their homes in Guangdong.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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