Chinese legal group says no evidence police beat and strip-searched lawyer
Guangzhou lawyers association says police were guilty of ‘misconduct’ but cannot stand up claim that one of its members was assaulted at a station
A lawyers’ association in southern China said it had found no evidence that a local lawyer had been beaten by police after she complained of being strip-searched.
But a statement released on Saturday by the Guangzhou Lawyers Association said after reviewing security footage from the city’s public security bureau, it had concluded that police officers were guilty of “misconduct”, had displayed an “improper attitude” and used “uncivilised language” towards Sun Shihua.
But the association said it had found no evidence to support claims that officers had beaten or shamed Sun and two others.
The case will be further investigated by the municipal public security department, it added.
The case generated public concern after Sun, who has worked on civil and commercial cases for 18 years, posted a letter on the social media platform WeChat this week, saying she was choked and strip-searched by police on September 20 at Hualin police station in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, while requesting the release of Zhou Jianbin, the husband of her client Li Xiaozhen.
Both Zhou and Li have a long history of petitioning the authorities and have been detained multiple times.
While discussing the case with a policeman surnamed Chen, Sun said, he threw his ID card at her and claimed that Sun had attacked him.
She said a group of policemen then surrounded her, some grabbing her hands while Chen choked her.
At that time, Sun said, a female petitioner who was at the station started recording what was happening on her phone. She was stopped from doing so, forced to delete her videos and ordered to take off her clothes, Sun claimed.
Sun said she herself was also ushered into a room, where a curtain was hung to separate a corner from the policemen. She was forced to stand in the corner and take off all her clothes, with the police saying they had to check whether she was carrying any dangerous weapons. The entire process lasted about 20 minutes, she said,
Sun added that Li later told her she had been strip-searched too.
Sun and her husband Sui Muqing reacted to the statement by the lawyers’ group by saying they deeply regretted its conclusions, which were far different from what had actually happened.
Sun repeated that she had been violently attacked by the police officer who choked her and called for surveillance footage to be released to the public.
The call to release the footage won support on social media, with some internet users pointing out the footage was the key evidence in the case.
Neither the Guangzhou Lawyers’ Association nor Hualin police station could be reached for comment on Saturday.