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Canada Court Limits China Intervention in Lawsuit Againsts Former Communist Head

Posted by Author on December 5, 2007

By Jason Loftus, Epoch Times Toronto Staff, Nov 29, 2007-

TORONTO— A China-based lawyers group backed by the communist regime will be allowed to join a torture lawsuit in Ontario against former communist party leader Jiang Zemin, but not without some heavy restrictions.

The All-China Lawyers Association, which earlier said it wanted the case against Jiang dismissed, will be limited to a 20-page submission on the application of Canada’s State Immunity Act.

ACLA was seeking friend-of-the-court status in a lawsuit waged by six Canadian residents who were tortured in China for their belief in Falun Gong, a spiritual practice persecuted by the Chinese regime.

The plaintiffs argued that ACLA is a front for the Chinese Communist Party. They said allowing ACLA to join the suit would permit Jiang, former communist party chairman, to defend the case while protecting him from costs in a losing judgment. (Jiang has not replied to the suit.)

They also warned that ACLA could attempt to derail the case with lengthy submissions.

In a ruling released Friday, Madam Justice Maureen Forestell noted there likely exists a strong relationship between ACLA and the defendants, which includes Jiang and four other high-ranking Chinese officials who have played key roles in the eight-year persecution of Falun Gong.

She said ACLA would be forbidden from submitting evidence or making arguments on the case and that ACLA could be on the hook for costs if it lengthens the proceedings.

But she allowed the organization to argue on immunity, something she said the court would need to assess anyway.

Kate Kempton, the plaintiffs’ Toronto lawyer told The Epoch Times she was pleased with the decision.

“We had obviously hoped to succeed in preventing ACLA to intervene, but the court ordered quite a limited intervention, and we are happy about that,” Kempton said.

The four officials named in the suit together with Jiang include Li Lanqing, Luo Gan, Liu Jing, and Wang Maolin, all top officials who lived at the communist leadership compound in Beijing. They are widely seen as key supporters of Jiang’s persecution of the group, which began in 1999.

The plaintiffs argue that the officials “abused their positions as top officials of the Chinese Communist Party” to carry out a “campaign of terror.”

They argue that the officials acted outside of Chinese and international law and thus are not entitled to immunity.

Among the plaintiffs is Zhang Kunlun, an art professor and Canadian citizen who was imprisoned and tortured with electric shocks when he was caught talking to others about Falun Gong on a return visit to China.

Zhang was rescued with the help of a campaign by Amnesty International and intervention by Irwin Cotler, former Canadian minister of justice. He was featured last week in a CBC documentary on the persecution of Falun Gong in which he described his time in a Chinese labour camp as “being in a den of monsters.”

Zhang said guards told him there were orders from Jiang Zemin that they could torture a Falun Gong practitioner to death and simply burry the body outside, calling it a suicide.

The suit is among at least 50 civil and criminal cases that have been filed in 16 regions worldwide. At least 18 have been filed against Jiang, though Jiang has never responded himself to any of the suits.

Government sources say that Jiang has tried to pressure western governments behind the scenes. In several cases, ACLA has intervened attempting to have cases thrown out.

“The Chinese Communist Party is very nervous about the lawsuits filed against the major perpetrators of the persecution of Falun Gong,” says Terri Marsh, a U.S. attorney who has worked on many of the cases.

“That’s the strategy of those officials involved in the persecution—they don’t reply to the lawsuits; they use a proxy to try to have the case dismissed.”

“This is because they know that the defendants are responsible for these crimes,” adds Marsh. “If they were to come to court to defend themselves, they would be held accountable for their crimes.”

A U.S. court rejected three efforts by ACLA to join a lawsuit against the state-run China Central Television network, which has intensively promoted and justified the regime’s repression of Falun Gong.

The six Canadian plaintiffs are seeking $20 million dollars in damages from the five officials. A decision in July 2006 allowed the case to move forward, saying the plaintiffs had done “everything in their power” to serve the claim and that it would be in the interest of justice for the claim to proceed.

– Original report from the Epochtimes: Ontario Court Limits Chinese Intervention in Lawsuit

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