Law & Crime SinoBeat

Family of ‘rebel Chinese village’ chief refuses to recognise gov’t appointed lawyers

The family of the former elected leader of the “rebel” fishing village of Wukan has refused to recognise two lawyers reportedly appointed to represent him.

A statement posted on social media and signed by Lin’s family members said: “Lin Zuluan’s case doesn’t meet the scope for legal aid. Myself and my family completely have the financial means to hire a lawyer for Lin Zuluan.”

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Lin Zuluan’s spouse Yang Zhen holds the statement. Photo: Weibo.

In 2011, the Guangdong village made headlines after residents were allowed to elect its own leaders following a months-long standoff with police over illegal land grabs. Lin Zuluan was one of the last leaders of the 2011 protests to remain in office. On June 18, he was arrested at his home in the middle of the night and accused of taking bribes. After his arrest, local citizens marched in the streets for days calling for his release.

‘No knowledge’ of the matter

“[We] do not recognise the opinions or defence that the aforementioned lawyers provide in Lin Zuluan’s case before Lin Zuluan himself or his family members hire [a lawyer].”

The government in Shanwei city has hired two lawyers as Lin’s defence counsel, said the family’s letter. Reports of the hiring of the two lawyers originated from a Weibo post, which said that Lin Zuluan hired a lawyer surnamed Wang and a lawyer surnamed Fang as his defence counsel.

The family told Ming Pao that they did not hire the two lawyers and had no knowledge of the matter.

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The Weibo post about two lawyers appointed for Lin. Photo: Screenshot.

Previously, a lawyer hired by Lin’s family was pressured by authorities to withdraw from Lin’s case. Ge Yongxi posted on Weibo that the Justice Bureau ordered his firm to return the fee sent to him by Lin’s sons. Ge told HK01 at the time that there was no legal basis for the Bureau ordering him to withdraw from the case.

According to Ming Pao, two other lawyers from Guangdong, Wei Rujiu and Yu Pinjian, were also hired on behalf of Lin by his family, but the authorities refused the lawyers’ request to see Lin, claiming Lin did not want to hire a lawyer. A statement from Lin on June 22 stated that he did not need to hire a lawyer and did not need anyone else to hire a lawyer for him.

Previously, authorities claimed to have verified allegations that Lin received a percentage of fees from the construction of a school running track. They also published a video of Lin “confessing” to taking kickbacks from projects.

Family of 'rebel Chinese village' chief refuses to recognise gov't appointed lawyers