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Dispute rages over trial by weibo

By Cao Yin  (China Daily)

08:40, February 23, 2012

BEIJING - A court case in Guizhou province has sparked a heated discussion over whether trial proceedings should be aired on micro blog.

Last month, a gang-related case involving 57 defendants and more than 40 lawyers began in the Xiaohe People's Court in the provincial capital Guiyang. But a dispute between lawyers and judges in the trial has caught the public's attention rather than the case itself.

During the hearing, several lawyers queried jurisdiction and procedures, causing disruption to the point where the judge in one instance ordered three lawyers from the court.

But more controversially, some lawyers in the court have been broadcasting information about the trial and their opinions of the judge through the Sina Weibo website.

He Bing, a law professor from China University of Political Science and Law, said he thought disclosing trial information through micro blog should not be seen as breaching laws but as a good way of monitoring justice.

"The case in Guiyang was open to the public, so lawyers have the right to speak their opinions," he said, adding there was no specific law banning this.

"Publishing the trial information on micro blog can encourage lawyers to uphold justice and improve a court's credibility," he said.

But other lawyers disagreed with He when he too aired his views on weibo.

Wang Yong, a lawyer specializing in criminal cases in Beijing's Chaoyang district, said that lawyers commenting live on a trial on micro blog is unreasonable, and breaches court rules.

"Everyone in the court must abide by the rules. There is no exception for lawyers," Wang said, adding that the responsibility of defendants' lawyers was to devote themselves to the case, not to disclose matters through micro blogs.

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