Australian Lawsuit Against Jiang Zemin Progresses, Lawyer Seeks Trial by Default (Photo)


Ms. Zhang Cuiying, a Falun Gong practitioner and artist from Australia, filed
a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese leader who started the persecution
of Falun Gong in China, and Luo Gan, former Head of the 610
Office
, on September 15, 2004. This case finally started to progress recently.
The Australia Department of Justice sent Ms. Zhang an official letter confirming
that her legal complaint had been delivered to Yan Nan, a staff member at the
Chinese Embassy in Canberra. Penelope Richards, senior legal consultant of the
Australia Department of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that the Department of Foreign
Affairs has finished the delivery process and informed the New South Wales Supreme
Court. Mr. Adam Slattery, Ms. Zhang's lawyer, said if they didn't
get a response from the accused, they would seek a trial by default.



Plaintiff Ms. Zhang Cuiying and her lawyer Mr. Adam Slattery


Since the case was filed three years ago, it has been delayed for various
reasons. The recent breakthrough has caught the attention of the outside world
because of the subtle change of the Australia Department of Foreign Affair's
attitude toward the lawsuit.



Plaintiff's Attorney: Will seek trial by default if the accused do not
respond



Mr. Slattery said they will seek to have a trial by default if the accused do
not respond to the complaint. Generally a country doesn't sue the head of
another country because of the issue of diplomatic immunity. However, Jiang
Zemin is no longer head of state, hence immunity may not apply to his case.
Also, it is still questionable whether diplomatic immunity applies to crimes
such as genocide. Mr. Slattery said that most people would think it outrageous
if someone were to say that Hitler couldn't be sued for genocide because he
enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Mr. Slattery believes that Ms. Zhang's case
involves multiple issues, but the bottom line is that an Australian citizen was
illegally arrested and tortured in China for a peaceful appeal.



Australian government is more cautious with lawsuit against Jiang Zemin after
Foreign Minister Downer was found guilty of depriving practitioners their right
to protest



Chen Yonglin, a former Chinese diplomat who defected from the Chinese
Consulate in Sydney, thinks that the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs
currently faces great pressure, especially from Foreign Minister Alexander
Downer. Downer lost a lawsuit brought against him by Falun Gong practitioners
and was found guilty of depriving practitioners of their right to peacefully
protest in front of the Chinese Consulate. Since then, the Australian government
has been more cautious with the lawsuit against Jiang. Chen went on to suggest
that the government knows it must follow legal procedures strictly, and that it
can't try to put off the case to please Beijing, as it had tried to do
earlier.


Chen also thinks the Department of Foreign Affairs' current approach shows
that the government has taken a big step forward in balancing human rights and
economic benefits. When dealing with a country that tramples upon human rights,
Australia is holding firm to its belief in democratic freedoms and an
independent judiciary, which conforms to Australia's national long-term
interests.



Australia is changing its foreign policy toward China



Wu Fan, a commentator and Chief Editor of China Affairs online magazine, said
Minister Downer is very pro China and he might have been under pressure from
Beijing. Downer signed a document that restricted Falun Gong practitioners'
right to protest in front of Chinese Consulates in Australia, and renewed it
month after month after month. Practitioners sued Downer and Downer lost the
case. Wu believes that the attitude in Zhang's case shows Australia's China
policy is changing. He feels that there are several things that affect Australia's
attitude toward Falun Gong, including Falun Gong's increasing influence around
the world. People sympathize with Falun Gong practitioners suffering brutal
persecution. Also, the environment in China is changing.



Lawsuits against Jiang have great impact



Hu Ping, political commentator and chief editor of Beijing Spring,
said that Australia's attitude toward the lawsuit against Jiang Zemin is
changing partly due to the plaintiff's persistent efforts. The forward motion
of the case in Australia helps similar cases in other countries to progress.
This case has gained a fair bit of media attention and shocks the CCP leaders in
Beijing. It may warn and stop individuals who physically participate in
torturing practitioners.



Background on the Lawsuit Against Jiang



In 2000, practitioner Ms. Zhang Cuiying went to Beijing to appeal for Falun
Gong and was imprisoned and tortured in China for eight months. The Australian
government and Falun Gong practitioners worked together and rescued her back to
Australia in November 2000. On September 15, 2004, Ms. Zhang filed a lawsuit
against Jiang Zemin, former leader of the CCP, in the New South Wales Supreme
Court for genocide and torture. When Ms. Zhang was imprisoned in Beijing, Luo
Gan interrogated her in person. Because Luo is the main character who pushes the
persecution of Falun Gong, Luo was listed as another accused in the lawsuit on
March 5, 2007.


According to Theresa Chu, chief executive of the Washington DC Human Rights
Law Foundation Asia Branch, there are at least 50 lawsuits filed against CCP
officials by Falun Gong practitioners from 2002 to 2007. There are at least 30
countries and over 70 lawyers helping practitioners with the lawsuits. Most of
these lawsuits, including civil and criminal cases, are against Jiang Zemin (15
countries).

Posting date: 2/Sep/2007
Original article date: 30/Aug/2007
Category: Australian News

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