The crime of “provoking a serious disturbance,” Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law, has received a great deal of attention inside and outside China over the past couple of years. This is partly because Chinese authorities appear to have relied on the crime in their recent concerted campaign against rights defenders, civil-society activists, and others deemed to disrupt social order. One recent example is the detention of the “Beijing five” on the eve of International Women’s Day. The five women planned to protest sexual harassment on public transport. Zheng Churan (郑楚然), Wei Tingting (韦婷婷), Wang Man (王曼), Wu Rongrong (武嵘嵘), and Li Tingting (李婷婷) had been released on bail at the time of writing.
Dui Hua has previously pointed out Article 293’s reputation as a “pocket crime,” or a vaguely defined catchall. But as Jeremy Daum at the China Law Translate website points out, even though Article 293 encompasses four different categories of illegal action, most of these are actually quite specific. Moreover, subsequent interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) has made headway in further defining the conditions that constitute the crime.
It is the fourth category of Article 293, namely, “making a commotion and creating a serious disturbance in a public place,” that has been most frequently invoked during the recent crackdown on rights defenders. Petitioners are particularly vulnerable to prosecution under this category—especially those who have resorted to more unconventional methods to gain publicity.
Wei Biling (韦碧玲) is one such petitioner. She was sentenced to four years in prison last October by a court in the city of Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
In 1997, Wei Biling was a 25-year-old employee at a state-owned car dealer, when she was hit by a car that was being test-driven outside her office. The accident left her paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. With the incident ruled a workplace accident, Wei was awarded what she considered to be inadequate compensation. A subsequent divorce left her without a place to live.
Wei began petitioning in Beijing in 2008, becoming a familiar and visible presence as an organizer and spokesperson for the fluid community of individuals seeking justice in the capital. One of the ways that Wei Biling tried to bring attention to her case was to scatter large piles of leaflets in high traffic areas. The leaflets detailed her story and allegations of wrongdoing. Because she often chose to do this at “sensitive” times, such as during the annual gathering of the National People’s Congress, police tasked with preserving the impression of “stability above all else” could wind up on their hands and knees, scrambling to collect the leaflets before they blew into the hands of citizens.
These “abnormal petitioning” techniques are ultimately what led to Wei’s arrest in Beijing in February 2014 and subsequent conviction on charges of “provoking a serious disturbance” in October. At trial, prosecutors brought a total of seven separate charges against her. Four of them focused on “abnormal” petitioning activities like those described above. Three others focused on gathering petitioners to hold up banners and signs in public places as well as sending photographs and videos of those gatherings to people who posted them on Chinese-language websites published overseas.
In their indictment, prosecutors made note of the fact that one of these videos had been viewed more than 6,000 times. This suggests that they may have been trying to argue that the social harm caused by some of Wei’s actions should not be limited to physical space. This follows a controversial 2013 interpretation by the SPC and SPP, which extends the scope of Article 293 to include the use of information networks to, among other things, “disseminate false information ” and organize or incite others to do so.
It is noteworthy, however, that the Yufeng District People’s Court rejected the prosecution’s Internet-related charges, convicting Wei only for scattering leaflets in public places. The judicial panel’s particular reasoning, which appears to have reflected a decision by the court’s sentencing committee, is not especially clear. The court ruled only that there was no evidence to prove that the petitioner’s gatherings (and presumably the online posts as well) caused any serious disruptions to social order.
In the end, the court did not venture into the more nebulous question of whether actions taken in virtual space can be prosecuted under Article 293. Instead, it stuck with incidents in the types of locations that have been explicitly singled out in previous judicial interpretations, such as bus stops, theaters, and busy street corners. Yet the evidence for the seriousness of the disturbances at these street-level locations is quite thin, apparently relying on general witnesses statements about the potential for disruption by petitioners, instead of specific testimony about disruption caused by Wei Biling in particular.
Court verdicts in cases like this are increasingly available online, thanks to recent national efforts at increasing the degree of transparency of China’s judiciary. Before making Wei Biling’s verdict available to the public online, local court authorities evidently went to great efforts to conceal many of the details of her case—particularly in terms of the many locations she had gone to in search of publicity. The zeal with which these redactions were made to the verdict meant that Wei was initially identified only by her surname (common to many of the Zhuang ethnicity who live in Guangxi) and that the facts of the case were nearly incomprehensible in some places. As it turned out, however, an appellate decision from the Liuzhou Intermediate People’s Court was later published without any redaction, making it possible to fill in many details of the original verdict and locate more information about Wei Biling from non-official sources. What follows is a translation of the verdict issued by the Yufeng District People’s Court with details filled in from subsequent documents and research.
Yufeng District (Liuzhou) People’s Court Verdict: click to expand
Yufeng District (Liuzhou) People’s Court, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Criminal Verdict
The prosecuting organ is the Yufeng District (Liuzhou) People’s Procuratorate, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Defendant Wei [Biling], unemployed. Given 10-day administrative detention on June 30, 2012, by the Fengtai Precinct of the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) for provoking a serious disturbance. On February 20, 2014, the defendant was placed under criminal detention by the Yufeng Precinct of the Liuzhou PSB on suspicion of provoking a serious disturbance. On March 6 of that year, the Yufeng District People’s Procuratorate approved the defendant’s arrest, which was carried out the next day by the Yufeng Precinct of the Liuzhou PSB. The defendant is currently detained in the Liuzhou No. 1 Detention Center.
Defense counsel is Luo [Hongfeng], lawyer with the Guangxi Yinli Law Firm.
On August 4, 2014, the Yufeng District People’s Procuratorate filed indictment Yu Proc. Crim. Indict. (2014) No. 488 with this court, charging defendant Wei [Biling] with provoking a serious disturbance. This court accepted the case on the same day in accordance with the decision on jurisdiction assignment issued by the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region High People’s Court, formed a collegiate bench in accordance with the law, and held open hearings to try this case on August 26, 27, and 28, 2014. The Yufeng District People’s Procuratorate appointed prosecutors Li Jing, Qin Mengshu, and Huang Xuan to appear in court on behalf of the prosecution. Defendant Wei [Biling] and defense counsel Luo [Hongfeng] also appeared in court to participate in the proceedings. The trial has now concluded.
The Yufeng District People’s Procuratorate alleged that: Defendant Wei [Biling] did not accept the official reply and arrangements made by relevant departments of the people’s government in response to her petition demands and, in order to continue seeking resolution to her demands regarding medical expenses and housing placement, first went to Beijing in 2008 to begin a long period of abnormal petitioning activity. During this period, she gathered many others to participate in abnormal petitioning and took photographs and videos that were posted to overseas websites like “Human Rights Campaign in China” and “Boxun.” Of these, a video of her scattering leaflets at Tiananmen was viewed 6,111 times. Her actions created a serious harm to social and public order.
- On March 8, March 11, August 31, September 24, and October 24, 2012, Wei [Biling] went to the area around [Zhongnanhai] in Beijing to engage in abnormal petitioning and was given formal warnings in accordance with the law by the public security organ;
- At approximately 1 p.m. on November 8, 2012, Wei [Biling] scattered leaflets containing phrases like “Disabled Petitioner Given Mysterious Injection” and “evil Guangxi government” to passers-by at the [No. 938] bus stop on the west side of the [Liyuan] metro station in Tongzhou, Beijing, resulting in many people gathering to have a closer look. On this occasion, the public security organ seized 388 copies of the leaflets in accordance with the law;
- On the afternoon of October 2, 2013, Wei [Biling] took advantage of the many tourists visiting during the National Day holiday to scatter leaflets to people near the bus stop at the plaza north of the [National Performing Arts Center] at [2 West Changan Avenue], Beijing;
- At approximately 5 p.m. on October 1, 2013, Wei [Biling] took advantage of the many tourists visiting during the National Day holiday to distribute fliers to passers-by and shout on the sidewalk at the south entrance to [Nanchizi Street], Beijing;
- At approximately 1 p.m. on December 14, 2013, Wei [Biling] organized approximately 30 petitioners to hold banners and take photographs outside the petition office at the [redacted] Court on [redacted] Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing. After police officers intervened, Wei [Biling] organized petitioners to gather at the east side of [redacted] Court, blocking the road on [redacted] Street, to hold banners and take photos with the court as backdrop. These photos were then published on the overseas website “Boxun” under the title “Three Elderly Women Petitioners Locked up by Guangxi Public Security (video)”;
- At approximately 1 p.m. on December 15, 2013, Wei [Biling] organized approximately 40 petitioners to go to the open space on the west side of an island in the center of the lake inside [Tuanjiehu] Park at [redacted address], Chaoyang District, Beijing, where they held up banners and signs and took photographs that were subsequently uploaded to the overseas website “Boxun” for publication under the title “On Sunday, Beijing Petitioners Keep Demanding Officials Make Assets Public with Park Banner Blitz.” Afterwards, Wei [Biling] organized the petitioners to go to the green space located between the south side of [redacted] office building at [redacted addresss], Chaoyang District, Beijing, and the [redacted] overpass ([redacted] Bridge), where they held up banners and signs and took photographs with the CCTV Tower as backdrop, which were then published on the overseas website “Human Rights Campaign in China” under the title “The Lie of ‘Zero Petitioners’”;
- At approximately 1 p.m. on December 11, 2013, Wei [Biling] organized approximately 20 petitioners to gather on the sidewalk across from the north entrance to the [Guangxi] Hotel at 21 [redacted] Road, [Panjiayuan], Chaoyang District, Beijing, where they held banners and signs and took photographs that were published on the overseas website “Boxun” under the title “Guangxi Petitioners in Beijing Demonstrate outside [the Guangxi Hotel] (Beijing Representative Office).”
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on February 20, 2014, the public security organ took Wei [Biling] into custody in the stairwell at [redacted address], Tongzhou District, Beijing.
With respect to the aforementioned charges, prosecutors read aloud or presented the following evidence in court: the defendant’s confession, witness statements, records of identification, written evidence, audiovisual materials, and electronic data. The prosecution maintains that, in order to vent her grievances, defendant Wei used the pretext of petitioning and, finding excuses to make trouble, on multiple occasions gathered others to go to public places such as bus stops, parks, or theaters to stir up trouble and seriously damage social order. Her behavior violated Article 293(2) of the Criminal Law of the PRC, and she ought to be held criminally responsible for the crime of provoking a serious disturbance. Citing Article 172 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC, the prosecution requested that this court deliver punishment in accordance with the law.
Defendant Wei [Biling] did not dispute the facts as alleged in charges 1–3 of the indictment but took issue with charges 5–7, claiming that she did not organize petitioners to go to [redacted] Court, [redacted] Park, or [redacted] Hotel to hold up banners and take photographs. She also denied posting or uploading photographs to overseas websites.
Defense counsel argued that the prosecution had insufficient evidence to prove that defendant Wei [Biling] organized petitioners to engage in illegal assembly or post or upload photos to overseas websites, and he also recommended a suspended sentence in light of Wei’s physical condition.
In the course of the trial, it was ascertained that:
On December 1, 1997, defendant Wei [Biling] was in a vehicular accident that left her paraplegic. After the accident left her disabled, defendant Wei [Biling] made multiple requests to the relevant authorities to resolve issues related to medical treatment and [housing] placement, in response to which the relevant authorities issued a formal reply and proposed a plan. Defendant Wei [Biling] did not accept the plan proposed by the relevant authorities and, starting in 2008, commenced a long period of abnormal petitioning activity in Beijing:
- At approximately 1 p.m. on November 8, 2012, Wei [Biling] shouted and scattered leaflets containing phrases like “Disabled Petitioner Given Mysterious Injection” to passers-by at the [No. 938] bus stop on the west side of the [Liyuan] metro station in Tongzhou District, Beijing, resulting in many people gathering to have a closer look and causing chaos at the scene. Afterwards, the public security organ seized 388 copies of her petitioning leaflet in accordance with the law.
At trial, defendant Wei [Biling] did not dispute the aforementioned facts, which are confirmed by the following evidence that was cross-examined and confirmed in court:(1) “Report by the Office of the Guangxi Joint Conference on Handling Conspicuous Petitioning Problems and Mass Incidents on the Matter of [Steps Taken to] Resolve Wei [Biling]’s Petitioning Demands and Her Unlawful Petitioning Activity,” confirming that, beginning in 2008, Wei [Biling] had been engaged in long-term abnormal petitioning in Beijing in the name of problems associated with medical expenses and housing. In reply to Wei’s demands, the Guangxi Commission on Industry and Information Technology ultimately issued a response offering a final opinion on her petition and making arrangements to resolve the problems of medical treatment and cost-of-living allowance raised in her petition.
(2) Documents and memoranda from the Liuzhou Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Yufeng District Government’s Bureau [for Letters and Visits] regarding resolution of the problem of living expenses, medical treatment, and housing for Wei [Biling] and her parents, confirming that the relevant authorities had already issued formal replies offering resolution to the demands raised by Wei [Biling].
(3) A memorandum issued by the Yufeng District Bureau [for Letters and Visits], confirming that Wei [Biling] had previously in March, April, and October of 2013 been returned from Beijing to receive treatment by hospitals in Nanning and Liuzhou.
(4) The statement of witness Shi [redacted], head of the Yufeng District Bureau [for Letters and Visits], confirming that Wei [Biling] began petitioning in 2007 as a result of a work accident but never went to petition at the Yufeng District Bureau [for Letters and Visits]. The relevant departments in the Yufeng District Government had held multiple meetings to discuss the demands raised by Wei [Biling], out of which they developed a plan that was subsequently approved by the Guangxi Commission [on Industry and Information Technology] to resolve her problems related to housing, allowances, and medical expenses but that Wei [Biling] did not accept the plan.
(5) The statement of witness Zeng [redacted], deputy head of the [Rongjun] Sub-District Office in Yufeng District, confirming that Wei [Biling] began petitioning in 2007 as a result of a work accident. The relevant departments in the Yufeng District Government had held multiple meetings to discuss the demands raised by Wei [Biling], out of which they developed a plan that was subsequently approved by the Guangxi Commission [on Industry and Information Technology] to resolve her problems related to housing, allowances, and medical expenses but that Wei [Biling] did not accept the plan.
(6) Statements from the [Rongjun] Police Station and [Rongxin] Residential Community, confirming that Wei [Biling] had been seeking medical treatment outside Liuzhou for a long time and had never resided in their jurisdiction.
(7) The statement of Lai [redacted], mother of Wei [Biling], confirming that Wei [Biling] had been seeking medical treatment outside Liuzhou for a long time and only occasionally returned home to stay for a few days. Over the past two years, Wei [Biling] had continually been in Beijing to receive medical treatment.
(8) A memorandum, record of arrest, and inventory of seized items issued by the Tongzhou Precinct of the Beijing PSB, confirming that, at approximately 1 p.m. on November 8, 2012, public security officers on patrol near the [No. 938] bus stop on the west side of the [Liyuan] metro station in Tongzhou, Beijing, saw Wei [Biling] scattering leaflets to passers-by. The officers stopped her and took her to the public security organ for investigation, where they confiscated 388 fliers, which included the phrases “Disabled Petitioner Given Mysterious Injection” and “evil Guangxi government.”
(9) The statement of witness Ji [redacted], confirming that, at approximately 1 p.m. on November 8, 2012, he was passing a bus stop outside [Liyuan] metro station in Beijing when he saw a flier on the ground containing petitioning information and noticed a group of people gathered around watching.
(10) The statement of witness Zhang [redacted], confirming that he is the director of [Liyuan] station on the [No. 8] line of the Beijing Metro and began working at that station in 2009. There are bus stops outside that station with considerable pedestrian traffic. Occasionally, there are incidents of people distributing leaflets that can result in people standing around looking and affect the ability of passengers to exit the station.
(11) Statement of witness Zhang [redacted], confirming that she is the duty officer at [Liyuan] metro station and has worked there since 2010. That station is near the offices of [Liyuan] Town Government and exits onto bus stops, making for a great deal of pedestrian traffic. People frequently come to distribute illegal fliers and hold up banners, which causes the public to stop and look, blocks traffic, and disrupts the order at the bus stops.
(12) Statement of witness Xu [redacted], administration manager at [Jingtong] International Co. in Beijing, confirming that work often requires him to take the [No. 8] line of the Beijing Metro to [Liyuan] station. There is a commercial center in [Liyuan] Town near the station and a great deal of pedestrian traffic. If someone distributes fliers, it will lead members of the public to stop and look, causing congestion and disrupting the order at the bus stop.
- On October 2, 2013, Wei [Biling] distributed petitioning materials near the bus stop at the plaza north of the [National Performing Arts Center] at [2 West Chang’an Avenue], Xicheng District, Beijing, seriously disrupting public safety order in the surrounding area.
At trial, defendant Wei [Biling] did not dispute the aforementioned facts, which are confirmed by the following evidence that was cross-examined and confirmed in court:(1) A memorandum issued by the [National Performing Arts Center] Police Station of the Xicheng Precinct of the Beijing PSB, confirming that, on October 2, 2013, Wei [Biling] was placed under control by public security officers after distributing petitioning documents in front of the bus stop at the plaza north of the [National Performing Arts Center], disrupting public safety order in the surrounding area.
(2) Statement issued by the [National Performing Arts Center] Security Department, confirming that, apart from serving the general public, the theater often serves national leaders from China and abroad and that the theater and the surrounding area are a key national security control area.
(3) Statement of witness Zhao [redacted], a deputy squadron leader of the first squadron of the [National Performing Arts Center] Security Department confirming that the theater is located on the western end of [Changan] Avenue in the political heart of the nation. Foreign and domestic leaders often come to see performances there, and petitioners frequently come to scatter leaflets and hold up banners on [Changan] Avenue. In early October 2013, he heard that a petitioner was taken away by police after distributing fliers near the bus stop on [West Changan] Avenue at the north plaza of the theater. This kind of behavior has a detrimental effect on public order.
(4) Statement of witness Zhang [redacted], confirming that he attended a performance at the [National Performing Arts Center]. Because the [National Performing Arts Center] is geographically located in a political and tourist center, there is a great deal of pedestrian traffic. He believes that distributing fliers in such an area will cause members of the public to stop and look, disrupting normal order.
- At approximately 5 p.m. on October 1, 2013, Wei [Biling] shouted and distributed petitioning materials to passers-by on the sidewalk at the southern entrance to [Nanchizi Street], Dongcheng District, Beijing, seriously affecting order on the scene.
At trial, defendant Wei [Biling] did not dispute the aforementioned facts, which are confirmed by the following evidence that was cross-examined and confirmed in court:(1) Memorandum issued by the [Donghuamen] Police Station of the Dongcheng Precinct of the Beijing PSB, confirming that, at approximately 5 p.m. on October 1, 2013, police patrolling the eastern side of the southern entrance to [Nanchizi Street] in Dongcheng District, Beijing, saw Wei [Biling] on East [Changan] Avenue shouting and distributing petitioning materials to passers-by, seriously affecting the order on the scene. They stopped her and took her back to the public security organ for investigation.
(2) Witness Zhao [redacted], confirming that he is a sanitation worker for a Beijing sub-station of the Beijing Dongcheng Sanitation Bureau who is responsible for cleaning the sidewalk along East [Changan] Avenue to the southern entrance to [Nanchizi] Street. During the National Day holiday in October 2013, he saw a woman in a wheelchair on the sidewalk at the intersection of East [Changan] Avenue and [Nanchizi] Street who was taken away by police responsible for handling petitioners.
(3) Statement of witness Liu [redacted]’ou, confirming that she works in Beijing’s [Oriental] Plaza and that there are often petitioners on [Changan] Avenue distributing petitioning leaflets and holding up banners. Because [Changan] Avenue is a political center and there are many tourists, it can lead people to stop and look and block traffic, affecting public order.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on February 20, 2014, public security officers took Wei [Biling] into custody in the stairwell at [redacted address], Tongzhou District, Beijing.
The following evidence was also submitted in this case:
- Documentary evidence
- A reported-case registration form, a jurisdiction-assignment decision, and a case-filing decision, confirming that the Yufeng Precinct of the Liuzhou PSB was assigned jurisdiction over this case on February 13, 2014, and filed the case for investigation the next day.
- Record of arrest, confirming that, while handling the case of Tang [redacted] and Qin [redacted] for gathering a crowd to disrupt public order, the Jianpan Criminal Investigation Unit of the Liuzhou PSB Criminal Investigation Division learned through questioning the suspects that a woman named Wei [Biling] always participated [in their protests] and took responsibility for taking photographs of the gatherings and sending them to overseas websites. Through investigation, it was discovered that Wei [Biling] was located in a residential neighborhood in Tongzhou District, Beijing, and a police force was organized to go to Beijing to take her into custody. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on February 20, 2014, investigators captured defendant Wei [Biling] in the stairwell at [redacted address], Tongzhou District, Beijing, and announced that she was being placed under criminal detention.
- An administrative penalty decision issued by the Fengtai Precinct of the Beijing PSB, confirming that defendant Wei [Biling] was placed under administrative detention for 10 days after provoking a serious disturbance on January 30, 2012, by destroying the mirror on a car belonging to another person without cause outside the west entrance of the [China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation] General Hospital.
- Household registration documents, confirming the identity details of Wei [Biling].
- Written reprimands issued by the Xicheng Precinct of the Beijing PSB, confirming that Wei [Biling] was reprimanded by the public security organ in accordance with the law on March 8, March 11, August 31, September 24, and October 24, 2012, for engaging in abnormal petitioning activity around [Zhongnanhai] in Beijing.
- A memorandum issued by the [Fuyou Street] Police Station of the Xicheng Precinct of the Beijing PSB, confirming that Wei [Biling] went to engage in abnormal petitioning in the [Zhongnanhai] area a total of 46 times between April 30, 2008, and February 2, 2014.
- Housing registration documents issued by the Tongzhou District Housing Ownership Management Center, confirming that Wei [Biling] became the registered owner of Flat 1203, 2/F [redacted address], Tongzhou District, Beijing, on November 15, 2011.
- Witness statements
- Witness Wang [redacted], confirmed that he was the maintenance manager for [redacted] Property Company in Tongzhou District, Beijing, and that his company was responsible for property management of the flat owned by Wei [Biling].
- Witness Zou [redacted] confirmed that she lived in Flat 1202, next to the flat owned by Wei [Biling] in Beijing, that remodeling of Wei’s flat began around February 2011, and that Wei ordinarily resided there alone.
- Defendant’s confession and defense argument
In her confession to the public security organ, defendant Wei [Biling] said that she had petitioned in Beijing over issues related to a work accident and housing arrangements; that she told petitioners to go to the [Guangxi] Hotel to hold up banners and signs; and that she used her mobile phone to take photographs, which she subsequently sent by QQ to Old Zhang, who wrote articles and sent information about other petitioners to the overseas website “Human Rights Campaign in China.” In her confession to prosecutors, defendant Wei [Biling] said that she had been continuously petitioning in Beijing since February 28, 2008, and had scattered leaflets on the streets on many occasions in order to achieve her petitioning goals, but she denied gathering and organizing people or taking photographs and uploading them to the Internet.
- Search records, inventory of seized items, confirming that the public security organ conducted a search of Wei [Biling’s] residence in [redacted] Town, Beijing, on February 20, 2014, seizing a computer, camera, mobile phone, USB recorder, memory cards, SIM cards, leaflets, lists of names, notebooks, and petitioning documents.
- Audiovisual materials and electronic data:
- A total of 22 optical discs, recording the public security investigators’ questioning of Wei [Biling] and He [redacted]; the search of Wei [Biling’s] Beijing residence; and the gathering of evidence around Beijing’s [Liyuan] metro station, [Tuanjiehu] Park, the greenbelt across from CCTV Tower, and the entrance to the [Guangxi] Hotel.
- A record of electronic evidence inspection, photographs, use records, and a list of stored items, confirming the public security organ’s reading; extraction; and storage of photographs, images, and QQ chat records during their inspection of defendant Wei [Biling’s] mobile phone and computer.
The aforementioned evidence is objective and authentic and was obtained in a lawful manner; [therefore,] this court can confirm it.
The facts of this case are clear and the evidence is reliable and sufficient; [therefore,] the defendant may be found guilty of the offense.
This court finds that defendant Wei [Biling] distributed petitioning materials and made a commotion in high-traffic public spaces such as subway stations, bus stops, and theaters, causing the public to stop and look and creating serious disorder at the scene; [therefore], her acts constitute the offense of provoking a serious disturbance. The prosecution’s allegation that Wei [Biling] committed the crime of provoking a serious disturbance is therefore valid. Because defendant Wei [Biling] truthfully admitted her crimes, a more lenient punishment may be imposed in accordance with the law.
As for the prosecution’s allegation that Wei [Biling] engaged in abnormal petitioning on multiple occasions between March 8 and October 24, 2012, this court has determined that these actions have already been handled through reprimand by the public security organ in accordance with the law and may not be punished again.
As for charges 5–7 of the prosecution’s indictment, this court has determined that though there is evidence proving that defendant Wei [Biling] organized petitioners to hold up banners and signs and take photos in front of state organs and symbolic places like [redacted] Court, the CCTV Tower, and the [Guangxi] Hotel and that she sent those photos to a third party to publish on overseas websites, there is no evidence proving that these actions caused serious disorder in a public place. Therefore, based on the principle that there can be no penalty without a law, this court cannot convict defendant Wei [Biling] of the crime of provoking a serious disturbance based on the facts alleged in the prosecution’s charges 5–7.
In summary, defendant Wei [Biling] provoked serious disturbances and undermined social order, thereby constituting the crime of provoking a serious disturbance, which is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, penal detention, or public surveillance. This case has been discussed by this court’s sentencing committee, which has issued a decision. In accordance with Articles 293(1)(4), 67(3), and 61 of the Criminal Law of the PRC, [this court] rules as follows:
For the crime of provoking a serious disturbance, defendant Wei [Biling] is sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
(The prison term is to be calculated from the day the verdict is implemented, with each day spent in detention prior to the verdict’s implementation to count as one day of the prison term; therefore, it will run from February 20, 2014, to February 19, 2018.)
If this verdict is not accepted, an appeal may be filed within 10 days of the second day following the receipt of this verdict, either to this court or directly to the Liuzhou Intermediate People’s Court. In the case of a written appeal, the original appellate petition must be submitted together with two copies.
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