On Wednesday, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court concluded the trial of Xu Zhiyong on the charge of disrupting public order, a crime that can carry up to 5 years in jail. At the conclusion of the trial, Xu was invited to make a final statement, a right afforded to him by Article 193 of the amended Criminal Procedure Law. According to his attorneys, ten minutes into his closing statement, Xu was shutdown by the judge. According to Article 235 of the Supreme People’s Court Interpretation on the Application of the Criminal Procedure Law, the Court is permitted to stop a closing statement:
“After the chief judge announces the conclusion of courtroom debate, the collegial panel shall ensure the defendant’s full exercise of the right to a final statement. Where the defendant in his final statement repeats his opinions several times, the chief judge may stop it. Where the final statement is contemptuous of the court or public prosecutor, harms others or the common interests of society, or are irrelevant to the case, they shall be stopped.” – translation courtesy of China Law Translate
Fortunately, Xu’s lawyers have released his closing statement in its entirety and Yaxue Cao over at the blog Change China has posted the English translation. The document is an important read in understanding the New Citizens Movement, its principles, and why the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) is so afraid:
“While on the face of it, this appears to be an issue of the boundary between a citizen’s right to free speech and public order, what this is, in fact, is the issue of whether or not you recognize a citizen’s constitutional rights.
On a still deeper level, this is actually an issue of fears you all carry within: fear of a public trial, fear of a citizen’s freedom to observe a trial, fear of my name appearing online, and fear of the free society nearly upon us….” – Read the Full Translation Here Courtesy of Change China.
While this drama was unfolding in the courtroom, a separate drama was unfolding outside with various foreign journalists being physically harassed by both Chinese police and plain-clothed thugs likely hired by the Chinese police. All of it caught on camera. Here is Martin Patience of the BBC first harassed by police then by a group of thugs: