Lawsuit victor wants money

The man at the centre of a successful libel suit against a Chinese diplomat who described the Falun Gong spiritual movement as a "sinister cult" says he has yet to see a penny in damages. An Ontario court had ordered Pan Xinchun, China's deputy consul-general in Canada, to pay $11,000 to Joel Chipkar after describing the Falun Gong practitioner as a member of a "sinister cult" in a letter to a Toronto newspaper.

But Chipkar, 36, still hasn't received any money despite another court order earlier this month that Pan's bank account be garnisheed to cover the costs -- a sign, he said, that the Chinese government doesn't want to co-operate.

"It's not about the money," Chipkar said in an interview. "It's about the principle of stopping these people attacking people here in Canada."

Chipkar's lawyer, Peter Downard, said the bank -- the government-owned Bank of China -- has refused to comply with the garnishment order but won't say why.

"We discovered that the account was empty. Obviously there has to be a question whether that was a coincidence or not, but we don't know what the facts are."

David Chan, the bank's chief accountant and compliance officer, refused to discuss the case earlier this week.

The next step would be to subpoena Pan to testify about his assets, since the court has already ruled that Pan is not protected by diplomatic immunity, Downard said.

"Our view is that he has no immunity from being required to testify under oath."

In a letter to the court, however, the Chinese government strenuously claimed otherwise, arguing the case represented "an extremely serious issue with potential substantial consequences for the state relations between Canada and China."

No one could be reached yesterday from the Chinese government for comment.

For his part, Chipkar said he is frustrated. "They continue to hide, they continue to pressure our government to set this motion aside," he said. "They don't take responsibility for their actions. . . . I shouldn't have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to protect my family here from visiting officials who continue to break Canadian laws."

Falun Gong, a spiritual movement founded in 1992 that preaches exercise and meditation, was outlawed in China four years ago by the ruling Communist party.