|Lawyers representing the four defendants attempt to
negotiate with Liunan District Court officials.
(Photo: China Aid)
(Liuzhou, Guangxi—Jan. 19, 2015) The trial for four individuals from China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and neighboring Guangdong province charged with “illegal business operations” in relation to a self-published kindergarten textbook was deferred by the judge on Friday after the defense lawyers refused to comply with a baseless request that they go through a security checkpoint before entering the courtroom.
When the six lawyers entered the Liunan District Court building on Friday morning, officials told them they were required to pass through a security check before entering the courtroom.
“We said that the superior court has clear stipulations that lawyers are not required to go through a security check,” lawyer Sui Muqing said. “All [lawyers] are required to do is show their identification papers. This stipulation from the superior court is posted on a wall at the Liunan District Court. We have gone to and appeared in Liunan Court before, and they never asked us to go through a security check. However, today they suddenly demanded that we do so. We can’t accept that.”
Sui said that while the lawyers were negotiating with court officials, the officials suddenly produced a “new” stipulation from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Superior Court that supposedly backed the required check. However, when the lawyers asked to photograph the new stipulation, officials wouldn’t allow them to do so, which raised suspicion about the document’s authenticity amongst the lawyers.
“The stalemate lasted until 11 a.m. when the court adjourned because court couldn’t be in session [without us present]. The four defendants were hauled back to the detention center,” Sui said.
“We have gone to the Liuzhou Municipal Procuratorate to submit an indictment,” Sui said. “We accused Meng Guangxin, the chief justice of the Liunan District Court and Qi Songmei, the deputy director of the criminal court, of abuse of power.”
The trial was originally slated to being on Dec. 23 but was postponed until Friday for an unknown reason. The judge gave no notice of when the trial would recommence after its deferral on Friday.
The defendants in the case are Cheng Jie, the director of the Liuzhou-based Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten, which was founded by Liangren Church of Guangzhou, Li Jiatao, a Hong Kong national and member of Liangren Church, Huang Qiurui, a church elder, and Fang Bin, a Guangzhou local who printed the books for the church. Cheng was detained from the school on Feb. 18, along with another woman who was later released. Li, Huang, and Fang were detained on June 23 from their homes in Guangzhou by Liuzhou police. Li was taken after police smashed through the front door.
The indictment against the four states that Fang Bin printed the unauthorized textbooks compiled by the kindergarten, which authorities claim qualifies as illegal business operations because the textbooks don’t have identification numbers. The indictment also says that Li Jiatao was in charge of the financial revenue and expenses of the character-building textbooks and that Huang Qiuri was in charge of shipping the books to Cheng Jie, who would then control the distribution of the books.
The indictment states that all activity by the four defendants was done under the direction of Sun Haiping, the wife of former Liangren Church pastor Wang “Joshua” Dao. Sun is accused of having organized the group to compile the books without approval from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television. Sun and Wang now live in the United States.
Dozens of supporters arrived in Liuzhou Thursday to attend the trial the next morning but weren’t allowed in.
“They deployed many Domestic Security Protection Squad agents to monitor the whole process,” Du Hongbo, Cheng’s husband, said. “The DSPS agents were deployed at every level of the court, both inside and out. Christian supporters came from afar, and each defendant’s family could only get three tickets to sit in on the trial. However, there are 27 seats in the court. When the out-of-town supporters inquired about the seats, they were told the court was full.”