23 November 2009

Huang Qi Sentenced to 3 Years, Verdict Denied to Family

According to this report from Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), Huang Qi was sentenced to three years in prison at around 11 a.m. this morning on the charge of "illegal possession of state secrets." Huang, who previously served five years in prison from 2000 to 2005, is one of China's veteran "rights defenders" and, through his 64tianwang website, a pioneer in the use of the Internet to promote justice and rights in China.

The conviction is unfortunately not unexpected. What is a bit more unusual is that, according to the CHRD report, the presiding judge in the trial at the Wuhou District People's Court in Chengdu, Sichuan, refused to provide Huang's wife, Zeng Li, with a copy of the verdict, arguing that since Huang is an adult, it's unnecessary to provide family members with a copy. (The implication is that only relatives of juvenile defendants are provided copies of the verdict.)

Well, unless there are "special" rules that haven't been made public, the judge's excuse is ridiculous. According to Article 182 of the 1998 Supreme People's Court "Interpretation of Several Issues Concerning Implementation of the Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC" (最高人民法院关于执行《中华人民共和国刑事诉讼法》若干问题的解释):

当庭宣告判决的,应当宣布判决结果,并在五日内将判决书送达当事人、法定代理人、诉讼代理人、提起公诉的人民检察院、辩护人和被告人的近亲属。定期宣告判 决的,合议庭应当在宣判前,先期公告宣判的时间和地点,传唤当事人并通知公诉人、法定代理人、诉讼代理人和辩护人;判决宣告后应当立即将判决书送达当事 人、法定代理人、诉讼代理人、提起公诉的人民检察院、辩护人和被告人的近亲属。判决生效后还应当送达被告人的所在单位或者原户籍所在地的公安派出所。被告 人是单位的,应当送达被告人注册登记的工商行政管理机关。
"After the verdict is announced, [the court] should immediately deliver a copy of the verdict to the parties to the case, their legal representatives or litigation representatives, the People's Procuratorate making the prosecution, defense attorneys, and close relatives of the defendant."

I'd read someplace before that Huang and Zeng were divorced, but I don't know if that's a fact. If so, perhaps that has some bearing on her status as a "close relative." Otherwise, though, the judge's argument that relatives can only be provided with copies of the verdict in cases involving juveniles is bogus.