With the first arrest on March 17, 2002, the Liaoyang Four have been detained for almost six months, but to date, they have not been formally charged yet. On the maximum length of detention, China Labour Bulletin (CLB) called the city procuratorate for details. An official advised us to refer to the statute books, and said, "for sure, the public security bureau will not contravene the laws when carrying out its duties".
A legal practitioner at the Jingdu Law Firm in Beijing explained to CLB that suspects could be detained for six and a half months at the most 3-month investigation by the public security bureau, plus one and a half months' examination by the procuratorate, plus two follow-up investigations of one month each. Including public holidays, the maximum length of detention is seven months.
On this basis, the Liaoyang Four should be released or formally charged on or before October 17, 2002.
Meanwhile, to keep up their fight, about 600 workers at Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory attempted to file a case with the city procuratorate around August 20 with charges against the following:
- the public security bureau -- for the arrest of four workers' representatives (Yao Fuxin, Pang Qingxiang, Xiao Yunliang and Wang Zhaoming) in March, and abducting and assaulting another worker representative, Gu Baoshu, in April;
- the court -- for declaring Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory bankrupt without following the due process;
- the city government -- for unilaterally terminating the 20-year employment contracts signed with Ferroalloy Factory workers in 1995;
- management at Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory -- for dereliction of duty leading to casualties at the workplace.
However, the city procuratorate refused to prosecute the case on the grounds that the accusations were not specific.
Guo Xiujing, wife of Yao Fuxin, told CLB that the workers had nothing to fear because they were acting in accordance with the law. She recounted the excuse of "illegal assembly and demonstration" the local authorities made up in previous arrests, and said that the workers were determined to fight on through legal channels.
China Labour Bulletin