Proceedings in Lee Ming-che case scripted: lawyer (update)

2017/09/11 22:53:10 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Lee Ming-che

Lee Ming-che

Taipei, Sept. 11 (CNA) Monday's court proceedings in China in the case of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲) were scripted, said a Judicial Reform Foundation official on Monday.

Lee pleaded guilty to the charge of "subversion of state power" at Monday's hearing, and everybody, from the judge and prosecutors to the lawyers and two defendants, were "staring at scripts, reading," indicating that "everything was prearranged," said foundation Executive Director Kao Jung-chih (高榮志).

Kao did not say if the "arranged" nature of the case meant that a deal on Lee's sentence had already been determined.

But he felt that the charge against Lee and the evidence presented by prosecutors against Lee made people wonder whether the activist was in fact a "political prisoner" or a "criminal."

The lawyer speculated that the timing of the proceedings was deliberately set for Monday to stop Lee's wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), from traveling to Geneva on Sept. 10 and reporting on her husband's case at a meeting of the United Nations working groups on arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

The proceedings disqualified Lee as a victim of enforced disappearance, which international law treats as a crime against humanity, Kao said.

Lee's case, however, has drawn attention in Taiwan and around the world, Kao said, and he believed the interest shown by Taiwan and the international community in Lee's plight and their stance on the matter could affect the Taiwanese activist's sentence.

A Chinese lawyer told CNA that judging from Lee's cooperation with the court and the outside attention to the case, it can be expected that Lee will likely get a lenient sentence.

The lawyer from northern China, who asked that he not be identified, said the broadcast news about Monday's court proceedings shows that Lee is but a "considerably active accomplice" in this case, not the chief suspect.

Besides, the lawyer added, the case has not created a great impact in China. "Based on my experience, Lee will not be given a heavy sentence."

He cited precedents in China as saying that Lee has pleaded guilty, has been cooperative and has caught wide attention; "if Lee agrees not to make any more troubles in the future, he could get a lenient sentence or even a parole."

Lee, a staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei and a former Democratic Progressive Party worker, went missing after entering China via Macao on March 19. He was later confirmed to have been detained by Chinese authorities.

The Chinese government announced in May that he had been arrested on the charge of subverting state power.

On Monday, Lee pleaded guilty to the charge in a hearing at the Yueyang City Intermediate People's Court in Hunan Province. He admitted to intentionally disseminating information and articles attacking the Chinese Communist system and the Chinese government.

After the plea, the court said it would announce Lee's sentence at a future date.

(By Miu Chung-han and Elizabeth Hsu)
Enditem/ls/sc


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