27 June 2009

Liu Xiaobo Meets with Lawyers, Willing to Take "Full Responsibility" for "Charter 08"

I'm not sure why I didn't think of this earlier: If Liu Xiaobo's case weren't about "Charter 08," then why would the police prevent renowned criminal defense attorney Mo Shaoping (another "Charter 08" signatory) from representing him?

In any case, Liu has now met with two other lawyers from Mo's firm, Shang Baojun and Ding Xikui. Chinese Human Rights Defenders has a good summary of the meeting here (in English), and another summary (in Chinese) can be found here.

It appears I was right to think that "Charter 08" could be used as the basis of an incitement charge against Liu Xiaobo, but it seems that some of his other writings over the years are also in the mix. Liu has reportedly told his lawyers that he's "willing to take complete responsibility" for "Charter 08," but he has denied breaking the law.

I still think there's a possibility that police will turn this case into a "subversion" case and start arresting other "co-conspirators," but in case that investigative thread doesn't pan out, they appear to have someone on whom they can pin blame for this vile act of expressing aspirations for a freer, more transparent, more democratic China.

1 comment:

  1. At the risk of stating the obvious:

    Liu has been detained in violation of all relevant procedural norms because prosecutors need some solid evidence to substantiate their charges.

    To a certain extent, these are unfounded.

    Charter 2008 advocates for deep structural reforms rather than an overthrow of the current system. The drafting, signing and dissemination of the document do not fall ***entirely*** within the scope of CL 105(2).

    This places prosecutors in a very difficult position. They have to find probatory elements to back up charges under 105(2). Charter 2008 is clearly insufficient. So they have to find something else.

    Thay may sift through Liu's writings, his correspondence, bank accounts etc. in search of SOMETHING, which could more or less fit ANY of the statutory provisions of Chapter I criminal law.

    Finding this evidence and reaching a consensus on a charge which sounds more or less credible (or the other way round) takes time.

    Liu's case proves how using the criminal law in such an instrumental way is not as easy as we may think.

    I don't know whether those who wrote Charter 2008 considered the possible legal implications of their behaviour.

    If they did, well they managed to put prosecutors in a dilemma at least.

    This outcome was sub-optimal, in that Liu was detained, and the other signatories must feel a bit unsafe.

    In theory one could figure out how to conduct advocacy in ways which make it technically impossible to be indicted on criminal charges.