Court has sole authority to judge seven lawyers

By Shan Renping Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-14 0:38:01

Western media, quoting sources from Beijing-based Fengrui Law Firm, reported that seven "human rights" lawyers and legal assistants have been formally arrested recently after being detained in July last year. Three of the seven, including Zhou Shifeng, a partner of Fengrui, were arrested on charges of State subversion, while the rest, a 25-year-old assistant named Zhao Wei included, are charged with instigating subversion of the State.

Quite a few mainstream Western media outlets accused Chinese authorities of "cracking down on human rights defenders." Some in China also voiced their objections to the arrests by showering sympathy for Zhao on the Internet. Their logic is: How can a 25-year-old woman have instigated subversion of the State?  

We believe whether they are guilty or not can only be made by the court after the procedure of detention, investigation, arrest and prosecution. Before that, people can analyze their case, but they should not  endorse the suspects' innocence or pressure the court through a "trial by public opinion."  

China has been advancing the rule of law. If it is denied simply on the grounds that a few lawyers are investigated and put on trial, it makes no sense at all.

Most lawyers are law-abiding, but the possibility that a minority of lawyers may seriously violate the law cannot be excluded. Only the court has the final say over the judgement of the seven arrested.

While we can sympathize over the arrest of a 25-year-old woman, there is no logic that this young lady of 25 definitely has not committed actions that harm national security. A few people are trying to instigate public opinion by stressing her "innocence." But the court will hold the final authority to judge whether she is guilty or not.

China's court verdict will be based on law and evidence, as was shown in the case of Pu Zhiqiang. Pu, a lawyer himself with more fame, was sentenced strictly based on the law, so why should other lawyers and legal assistants worry about being heavily punished?

Lawyers are supposed to wield their power in the courtroom. But in recent years, a number of Chinese lawyers have become active members of public opinion, becoming open or behind-the-scenes driving forces of several public events. This is not normal. This group of lawyers also received special attention from overseas forces. It is worth thinking about.

Have faith in the court and the progress of rule of law in China. They are more trustworthy than sensational slogans in the media. Law is the superior principle in judging right and wrong. No values can transcend the law. 

Posted in: Observer

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