Today I traveled to the other side of the city to meet with Li Fangping and have the much awaited debrief of the trial for Wu Yuren on Wednesday, Nov 17th, 2010 at 9:30 am at the Wenyuhe Criminal Courthouse. Here are some point form notes of what was discussed:
1. The next trial date for Wu Yuren will be in about 10 days, and the court will give Li Fangping three days notice in advance of the session date. According to Li, the second session will take place at the Wenyuhe Criminal Court House. All are welcome to attend the ‘human presence’ outside again, although still unclear if anyone will be let in.
2. Li Fangping highlighted the fact that there were major differences between the testimonies of Wu and the three police witnesses, black and white in fact. Moreover, he feels that the judge and prosecution noticed these differences, too, and that this has had an influence on deciding to adjourn the trial after 4 hours and schedule a second session for a later date. Furthermore, the crowd that amassed on the morning outside of the courthouse with the media also contributed to this decision, according to Li.
3. The video was supposed to have shown from the police station’s perspective and why Wu Yuren was being charged for ‘interfering in public service with violence’:
– prove Dawu was hostile and threatened the police;
– prove that the police did not use violence to restrain him;
– and prove that Dawu refused to go to one interrogation room, but went to the canteen (where he was beaten) on his own.
4. What we do see from the hand held video is the following:
– Dawu was shoved out of the room that he was being held in, in that he did not in fact go willingly;
– video is cut purposely just as it enters turns the corner into the canteen. Where is the rest of the video? Li states that this was not consistent with their story;
– when the video begins, immediately Dawu is saying something like, “…I will fight till the death”. Li would like to know WHAT provoked his client to say such a sentence. Where is the first part of the video?
5. After the second, 5 min break, the judge asks Li Fangping what he wants. He says that he wants to see the original police tape, unedited. She grants this to the prosecution to consider this request. However, before he states this request, he is cut off by the judge several times from explaining WHY he wants to see the original tape. Basically, he insists that the video shown in court has been cut and is missing parts, and he tries to ask why we are not viewing the regulation surveillance tape (from the wall mounted cameras). Turns out that the prosecution was not willing to collect the surveillance tape from the Jiuxianqiao Police Station in order to be shown in court. He is doubtful that he will get to see the original tape, let alone the surveillance tape (which was NOT shown in court on Nov 17th).
6. When asked how Wu’s trial was different compared to other somewhat similar criminal trials in China, here is his most interesting response: Wu’s trial is unprecedented in the fact that the Police sent their own officers to appear in court as witnesses. Why? This was due to the following factors:
– major letter writing campaign from within Canada which targeted the Canadian government, and Canadian embassy in Beijing, China, which in directly influenced the Chinese government and brought attention to the case at the top;
– the global Amnesty International letter writing campaign which began on October 1, 2010, and targeted not only the Chinese government, but the Chinese court;
– pressure from the constant international media attention;
– the possibility that Wu’s Canadian wife would be attending the trial.
7. Is there hope for Wu to be acquitted or released shortly after the second session, given the problems with evidence and gulfs in differences between testimonies?
Despite all of this, however, Li Fangping still estimates that Wu Yuren will be sentenced to around 12 months. The time done will be minus the time already served. How so? He feels that it would be too much a shock to their system to just acquit Wu or give him a very gentle sentence. Hard for them to make such a reformed decision at this time.
From my perspective, this potential ability of the Chinese government to on the one hand show some head way in witness precedents and trial format, but stick to their guns with actually sentencing him, is because we are dealing with an immature legal system in a country that does not yet have in place the rule of law.
Stay tuned for more updates …
A huge thank you to all of Wu’s supporters – in person and on line, in China and overseas!