CHICAGO (AFP) – US lawyers representing members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have appealed a judge’s decision to throw out a civil suit against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, attorneys in the case said.
The motions filed in US district court in Chicago ask the judge in the case to reconsider his decision and to admit an amended complaint, charging that Jiang personally directed the persecution of Falun Gong members to consolidate his power base, enhance his stature, and increase his personal wealth.
Judge Matthew Kennelly tossed a suit accusing Jiang of genocide and mass torture earlier this month, citing Jiang’s former head-of-state immunity from prosecution.
But in the motions filed here Monday, the attorneys argued that there are clear legal precedents for former heads of states being held to account for their private or criminal actions by international courts, notably former Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet, and former President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
In the case of Jiang, the attorneys argued that the veteran Chinese politician essentially forfeited his immunity by violating his “nation’s laws and international norms,” through the persecution of China’s Falun Gong followers.
“The torturer has become … an enemy of all mankind,” lawyer Terri Marsh said in a statement, citing a landmark US lawsuit that set the stage for trying foreign officials for gross human rights violations.
“Indeed the entire campaign of persecution has taken place outside of the normal and legally established governmental procedures. This is Jiang’s personal campaign.”