quinta-feira, 21 de janeiro de 2010

Um país, um sistema para os dissidentes

Dissident HK handed to mainland jailed 9 years
Defendant should not have been tried over border: lawyers

Minnie Chan and Phyllis Tsang
South China Morning Post
January 21, 2010

Questions over the implementation of "one country, two systems" have been raised by the jailing of a former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen protests by a Sichuan court after he was handed over to the mainland by Hong Kong immigration authorities.

The Shehong County People's Court sentenced Zhou Yongjun, 42, to nine years in jail on Friday after convicting him of attempted financial fraud and fining him 80,000 yuan (HK$90,840), the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

One of Zhou's lawyers, Chen Zerui, said his case stemmed from a complaint by Hang Seng Bank about a suspicious request to transfer overseas HK$6 million from a Hong Kong account registered to Wang Xingxiang, whose name was on the phony Malaysian passport Zhou used to try to enter Hong Kong.

The signature on the transfer form did not match that of the original account holder and the name was placed on a money-laundering watch list.

He said Hong Kong police had found no evidence linking Zhou to the transfer request during 48 hours of questioning following his arrival from Macau on September 28, 2008, and comparing his signature with that on the transfer form. He said Zhou was then passed back to Hong Kong immigration authorities, who handed him over to the mainland after he declined to reveal his true identity.

Another of Zhou's lawyers, Mo Shaoping, said there were jurisdictional concerns about the case, because the alleged fraud was committed in Hong Kong and the alleged victim was Hong Kong-based Hang Seng Bank.

"Firstly, it has to do with the location where the alleged crime was committed," Mo said. "It was allegedly committed in Hong Kong and Sichuan has no jurisdiction over that.

"Hong Kong is a special administrative region. Under 'one country, two systems' none of the mainland judicial authorities have the right to handle a Hong Kong lawsuit."

He said that if Hong Kong immigration authorities wanted to turn Zhou away, the proper procedure would have been to send him back to Macau; there was no reason to send him to a third location, Shenzhen.

"If they have doubts about his identity, they should send him back to Macau, where he came from, instead of sending him to Shenzhen," Mo said.

Zhou's human rights had also been violated, with Shenzhen authorities having detained him for seven months without notifying his family in the US or Sichuan, he said.

Speaking from Los Angeles, Zhang Yuewei, Zhou's girlfriend and the mother of their two-year-old daughter, said the Hong Kong government had violated the "one country, two systems" formula by sending him to the mainland.

Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan believes Zhou's sentence is related to his background as a student leader during the Tiananmen protests in 1989. Ho, a member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said the Hong Kong government had not provided details of Zhou's case, including his 48 hours of questioning by Hong Kong police, even though he had asked for such information months ago on behalf of Zhou's legal team.

"The Hong Kong government might have political considerations behind this arrangement," Ho said. "If we had been able to obtain this information, it might have helped Zhou's plea."

Zhou, from Sichuan, captured global attention in 1989 by kneeling on the steps of the Great Hall of the People beside Tiananmen Square with two other students and pleading for top Beijing leaders to acknowledge student calls for political reform and the stamping out of corruption.

Zhou managed to get out of the mainland in 1993 and moved to the United States. He returned in 1998 to visit his elderly parents after his mother fell ill, and was sentenced to three years in a labour camp in Mianyang, Sichuan.

His name made headlines again after Hong Kong immigration authorities handed him over to Shenzhen authorities in September 2008 for using the phony passport bearing the name of Wang Xingxiang. The name was a pseudonym used by Zhang Hongbao, founder of a mainland qi gong organisation known as Zhong Gong, to open bank accounts overseas. Zhang was wanted by mainland police for rape, illegally collecting money and other charges from the early 1990s. He fled to the United States in 2000 and died in a car accident on July 31, 2006.

Zhou's girlfriend said he denied the fraud charge and that he was the victim of bad luck and mistaken identity.

She said he had obtained the fake passport through an immigration agency - a practice common among exiled dissidents, many of whom found themselves stateless when Beijing refused to renew their passports.

A Hong Kong police spokesman said the force would not comment on an individual case. A spokeswoman for Hang Seng Bank also declined to comment, as did the Hong Kong government.

Chen said Zhou had decided to appeal.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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