Lawyers for Chen Kegui Challenge Local Police’s Unlawful Obstruction of Efforts to Defend Client

China Human Rights Briefing: Special Edition
 
May 22, 2012
 
Lawyers for Chen Kegui Challenge Local Police’s Unlawful Obstruction of Efforts to Defend Client
 
CHRD has obtained a letter addressed to the police chief of the Yinan County Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Shandong Province contesting the police’s unlawful interference in their efforts to defend Chen Kegui (陈克贵), the nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng(陈光诚), who arrived in the U.S. this past weekend, having escaped from unlawful house arrest. Chen Kegui was formally arrested two weeks ago on suspicion of “intentional homicide.” The letter (full Chinese text below) is written by lawyer Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) of the Beijing Mo Shaoping Firm on behalf of himself and another lawyer Si Weijiang (斯伟江) of the Shanghai Dabang Law Firm, both of whom have been authorized by Chen Kegui’s wife to represent her husband.
 
In the early morning of April 27, Chen Kegui reportedly grabbed kitchen knives to defend his family against intruding local officials and thugs who came to his home following their discovery that Chen Guangcheng had escaped from his home. Chen Kegui reportedly went into hiding before being apprehended by police officers from the Yinan County PSB, and he was formally arrested on May 9. Later that day, Chen Kegui sent a text message to his wife, Liu Fang (刘芳), which said “Hire lawyers for me.”
 
According to the letter, Chen Kegui’s wife retained Ding and Si on May 11 to represent her husband after two other lawyers she had hired, Liu Weiguo (刘伟国) and Chen Wuquan (陈武权), were intimidated and harassed by authorities; Guangdong judicial officials went so far as to suspend Chen Wuquan’s license to practice law. Upon entering the case, lawyers Ding and Si sent a request to the Yinan County PSB to ask for a meeting with their detained client. When Ding first contacted Yinan police by phone, he was told that Liu Fang must appear in person with the lawyers at the police station to file the authorization paperwork and request a meeting with Chen Kegui, or else the authorization would not be recognized. However, Ding told the police that their demand “had no legal basis.” With Liu Fang in hiding out of fear for her own safety, and having received threats herself, imposing this arbitrary requirement was tantamount to denying Chen Kegui access to counsel. To date, Chen Kegui has not been permitted to meet with any lawyer of his own choosing.
 
On May 18, two days after Ding had gone to Yinan and had tried, to no avail, to meet with his client, he finally was able speak with two Yinan PSB police officers, who informed Ding that Chen Kegui had accepted government-appointed legal aid attorneys before May 10 (Ding and Si were retained on May 11). When Ding asked to meet Chen in person—in order to verify this claim and allow Chen an opportunity to choose who wanted to represent him—police officials rejected the request, claiming it “did not accord with legal regulations.” That same day, Si called the Yinan Legal Aid Center to verify the police’s claim, but the person who answered the phone there said he was not aware of the matter, and thus could not provide the names of the appointed lawyers.  
 
In their letter, Ding and Si challenge the legality of the Yinan PSB’s rejection of them as the family-authorized lawyers for Chen Kegui and their refusal to allow them to meet with Chen Kegui: “We believe your Bureau’s conduct violates the Criminal Procedural Law of the People’s Republic of China and other administrative and legal regulations, and seriously violates the legal rights of Chen Kegui and lawyers’ lawful rights to carry out their profession.”
 
The letter also points out that the procedure used by the police in appointing “legal aid” lawyers for Chen was flawed. Both the Legal Aid Regulations (Article 15) and the Provisions on Legal Aid Work in Criminal Cases (Article 16) require that a detained suspect’s application for legal aid must be submitted to a legal aid agency within 24 hours, and that detention centers must notify detainees’ legal representatives or close relatives and provide all documents and case files necessary for legal aid applicants. The Yinan County Detention Center, where Chen Kegui is being held, violated these provisions when it failed to notify Chen’s family or his family-appointed lawyers.
 
Citing Article 23 of China’s Legal Aid Regulations, Ding argues that he and Si are Chen Kegui’s lawful attorneys, having been authorized by Chen’s wife to represent her husband, and that the “appointed legal aid lawyers” should stop providing ”legal assistance” to Chen.  
 
Finally, the lawyers request the Yinan PSB chief to act according to the law and immediately arrange for them to meet with Chen for the sake of “protecting Chen Kegui’s legal rights and lawyers’ lawful rights to carry out their profession, and defend the credibility of the law.” They urge the police chief to “understand the law correctly in good faith, and to fairly and strictly enforce the law,” which is beneficial for protecting both Chen’s legal rights and rule of law in China.
 
 
Original Chinese text of the letter:
 
2012年05月21日
 
律师函
 
沂南县公安局谢立伟、高兴利警官并转呈
 
马成连局长:
 
我是北京莫少平律师事务所丁锡奎律师,我和上海大邦律师事务所斯伟江律师是贵局侦办的涉嫌故意杀人案犯罪嫌疑人陈克贵的律师。现就会见陈可贵问题致函贵局,请依法予
 
以处理解决:
 
 一、基本情况
 
 2012年5月11日,我受陈克贵之妻刘芳委托,作为其本案侦查阶段律师及后续诉讼阶段的辩护人;刘芳称:2012年4月27日凌晨2:48分,陈克贵给她发短信,内容是“为我请律师”。
 
5月11日下午,我打电话给贵局刑事侦查大队(以下简称刑侦大队)时,接电话的王警官回复,领导要求,带委托人刘芳去刑侦大队办手续,否则不接收律师的委托手续,我表示这种要求没有法律依据。
 
5月16日上午11点左右,我和本案另一律师斯伟江(以下简称斯律师)到刑侦大队交委托及会见手续,接待我们的谢立伟警官(以下简称谢警官)接收手续并表示,因为承办人出差,等承办人回来安排会见事宜。斯律师当场与承办人高兴利警官(以下简称高警官)通电话,他说其在河南出差,回来才能安排会见。
 
5月17日下午5点多,高警官给我打电话,要求我和斯律师次日上午到刑侦大队面谈会见事宜,我要求明确告知,是否安排会见?高警官在电话里不置可否,一再要求面谈。
 
5月18日早上8点30分左右,我到刑侦大队,8点40分左右,我与高警官通电话,他要求等斯律师一起才能告知能否安排会见;一小时以后,高警官、谢警官出面接待我,郑重其事告知我,陈克贵已经请求法律援助,法律援助主管机关已在5月10日之前指定法律援助律师,你们不能会见陈克贵,但未出具任何书面材料;我提出仅就委托事项会见陈克贵并由其选择律师,被他们以“不符合法律规定”为由拒绝。
 
当日(5月18日)上午11点多,斯律师致电沂南法律援助中心(0539-3238148),中心的负责人(接电话人表示自己是领导,姓NI)表示,并不清楚此事,因此,也不知道是哪两位援助律师。
 
 二、我们的看法
 
我们认为,贵局的做法,违反了《中华人民共和国刑事诉讼法》(以下简称刑诉法)及有关行政法规的相关规定,严重侵害了陈克贵的合法权益及律师的合法执业权,具体为:
 
(一)贵局以“已经指定法律援助律师”为由拒绝亲属委托的律师会见陈克贵无法律依据
 
1、《刑诉法》仅在第三十四条第一款关于“公诉人出庭公诉的案件,被告人因经济困难或者其他原因没有委托辩护人的,人民法院可以指定承担法律援助义务的律师为其提供辩护”的规定,根本没有在侦查阶段以及审查起诉阶段指定法律援助律师的内容,更谈不上以“已经指定法律援助律师”为由拒绝亲属委托的律师会见的问题。
 
2、《法律援助条例》第十一条第一项规定“刑事诉讼中有下列情形之一的,公民可以向法律援助机构申请法律援助:(一)犯罪嫌疑人在被侦查机关第一次讯问后或者采取强制措施之日起,因经济困难没有聘请律师的”,也没有关于以“已经指定法律援助律师”为由拒绝亲属委托的律师会见内容。
 
3、《最高人民法院、最高人民检察院、公安部、司法部关于刑事诉讼法律援助工作的规定》(司发通[2005]78号,以下简称刑诉法律援助规定)第十六条规定“公安机关、人民检察院应当依法支持承办法律援助案件的律师开展工作,应当告知律师犯罪嫌疑人涉嫌的罪名,依法安排律师会见在押的犯罪嫌疑人,为律师向犯罪嫌疑人提供法律咨询、代理申诉、控告,为在押的犯罪嫌疑人申请取保候审等提供必要的便利条件”;该文件既不是司法解释,也不是部门规章,仅仅是普通规范性文件,不具有法律效力,其规定的在侦查阶段以及审查起诉阶段指定法律援助律师权利仅仅可以视为准诉讼地位,也没有关于以“已经指定法律援助律师”为由拒绝亲属委托的律师会见规定。
 
另外在此需要强调的是,本案为陈克贵指定法律援助律师的程序存在瑕疵,《法律援助条例》第十五条规定“本条例第十一条所列人员申请法律援助的,应当向审理案件的人民法院所在地的法律援助机构提出申请。被羁押的犯罪嫌疑人的申请由看守所在24小时内转交法律援助机构,申请法律援助所需提交的有关证件、证明材料由看守所通知申请人的法定代理人或者近亲属协助提供”,以及《刑诉法律援助规定》第六条规定“公安机关、人民检察院、人民法院在收到被羁押的犯罪嫌疑人、被告人提出的法律援助申请后,应当在24小时内将其申请转交所在地的法律援助机构,并通知申请人的法定代理人、近亲属或者其委托的其他人员协助提供《法律援助条例》第17条规定的有关证件、证明及案件材料”。本案中,临沂县看守所及贵局均未向陈克贵的亲属履行通知义务。
 
(二)依据有关规定,我们作为亲属委托律师有权会见陈克贵,原来“指定法律援助律师”应当终止法律援助
 
根据《法律援助条例》第二十三条关于“办理法律援助案件的人员遇有下列情形之一的,应当向法律援助机构报告,法律援助机构经审查核实的,应当终止该项法律援助:……(三)受援人又自行委托律师或者其他代理人的;(四)受援人要求终止法律援助的”的规定,应当确认的原则是,当事人委托的律师应当优先于指定法律援助的律师,具体到本案,陈克贵亲属委托律师后,原来“指定法律援助律师”应当终止法律援助,退出本案,而不是像贵局所说的,陈克贵已经指定法律援助律师,亲属委托的律师无权会见。必须将颠倒的是非校正过来,我们作为亲属委托的律师,有权依法及时的会见陈克贵。
 
另外在此指出的是,由于本案中涉案伤者系政府官员,亲属非常担心陈克贵在羁押中会受到不公正的待遇甚至酷刑,我国早于23年前已经加入联合国《禁止酷刑公约》,国际社会对陈克贵的情况也比较关注,贵局早日安排我们会见,便会早日消除这种疑虑。
 
 三、我们的请求
 
贵局依法及时安排我和斯律师会见陈克贵,以保障陈克贵的合法权益及律师的合法执业权,以维护法律的尊严。
 
尊敬的马成连局长,谢立伟、高兴利警官,正如贵局所称,本案是一个普通的刑事案件,但国内外极为关注,希望贵局本着理性和良知,善意正确的理解法律,公正严明的执行法
律,以期本案有一个公正圆满的结果!
 
如此,陈克贵幸甚,中国法治幸甚!
 
顺颂
 
侦祺!
 
                                         北京莫少平律师事务所丁锡奎律师
 
 二○一二年五月廿一日

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