Archive for ‘Law suit’

22/09/2013

Bo Xilai found guilty of corruption by Chinese court

BBC: “A Chinese court has found disgraced former top politician Bo Xilai guilty of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The former party chief of Chongqing was sentenced to life imprisonment, but has the right to appeal.

He had denied all the charges against him in a fiery defence at his trial.

Bo was removed from office last year amid a scandal which saw his wife convicted for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The verdict was handed down by the Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan, Shandong province.

Passing sentence the judge told Bo that he had damaged China’s national interests and the interests of its people, wrongfully using his position in power to receive bribes totalling 20 million Chinese Yuan ($3.2m; £2m).

He rejected Bo’s claims that his confession to the crimes was acquired through illegal means such as torture and interrogation, and said it therefore stood.

The BBC’s John Sudworth, outside the court, said that the judge completely demolished Bo’s defence arguments.

During Bo’s trial last month the court took the unprecedented step of releasing details about proceedings on its Weibo microblog.

The curtains appear to have finally dropped on Bo Xilai’s once-glittering Communist Party career.

Bo can appeal against the trial verdict and his life sentence, but it is highly improbable he could engineer a future in which he re-enters China’s political arena. He has been stripped of all political rights for life.

Of course, Bo can apply for release on parole after 10 years. Other convicted politicians were released from prison after serving only part of their original sentences. Chen Xitong, a former Politburo member, was released on medical parole after serving half of his original 16-year prison term.

However, Bo Xilai is 64-years-old. Even before his political downfall, he was moving towards the final chapter in his career. It is difficult to envision a scenario in which he can quickly revive his populist power base, even if he gains an early release from prison.

It is difficult to make predictions in the world of Chinese politics. Two years ago Bo appeared to be poised to move into Zhongnanhai, the government compound in Beijing were China’s top leaders reside.

Now, he will spend the foreseeable future inside a prison cell.

Bo was sentenced to life in prison on the bribery charges, 15 years for embezzlement and seven years for abuse of power – our correspondent says that he has been politically buried. In addition all his personal wealth has been confiscated.

He has 10 days to appeal against his sentence and conviction, but correspondents say that any such move is highly unlikely to be successful.

Although his trial was conducted under an unprecedented degree of openness for China, many analysts say that the guilty verdict was always a foregone conclusion – and many see the process against him as having a very strong political dimension.

Prosecutors had said that Bo accepted the bribes and embezzled public funds from Dalian, where he used to be mayor.

He was also accused of abusing his office by using his position to cover up for his wife Gu Kailai, convicted last year of murdering Neil Heywood in 2011.

In lengthy comments in court, he said he did not illegally obtain millions of dollars or cover up Mr Heywood’s killing.

He also dismissed the testimony of two key witnesses, describing his wife’s statement as “ridiculous” and his former police chief Wang Lijun’s testimony as “full of lies and fraud”.

via BBC News – Bo Xilai found guilty of corruption by Chinese court.

23/08/2013

In Bo Xilai Trial, Some See Positive Signs for Legal System

WSJ: “Many China watchers see the trial of Communist Party insider Bo Xilai as scripted and staged, unveiling flaws of a closed Chinese judicial system. Yet amid the criticism, some are seeing positive signs emerge from Jinan, the northeastern Chinese city in Shandong province where Mr. Bo is facing corruption charges, including allegations that he took bribes with the aid of his wife.

The following are opinions of legal experts who have been following the trial:

Many Western critics of the Bo trial are comparing it to the stage-managed show trials of China’s past, including Jiang Qing [the wife of Mao Zedong] and victims of the Cultural Revolution. But this criticism misses the point. The Bo trial is exactly 180 degrees different in nature. In the show trials of China’s past, the politics would drive the criminal prosecution. In other words, the target would fall out of favor politically and then be legally persecuted as a result. In this trial, we have the opposite: the criminal prosecution is driving the politics. A towering and influential figure is being prosecuted in spite of his political influence, and the trial is driven primarily by the criminal allegations against him. Instead of being accused of serious crimes because his political standing has collapsed, his political standing has collapsed because he has been accused of serious crimes. –Geoffrey Sant, adjunct professor at Fordham Law School and special counsel at Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Despite the degree of supervision provided for the trial, there are nevertheless grounds for opening up the administration of justice to the supervision of the people. We’ve seen that in China there are many cases and trials that are not open, that attendance is constrained. Yet leaders have shown that they are willing to open up this case—to a certain extent—to the media, creating the perception that they are moving toward creating a more accessible judicial system.

Leaders are going farther than they could have to make the trial available. It’s a show trial, but not all trials are for show in China. To the extent that openness reveals shortcomings of the judicial system and promotes civil liberties is a positive thing. –Lester Ross a Beijing-based attorney with U.S. law firm WilmerHale.”

via In Bo Xilai Trial, Some See Positive Signs for Legal System – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

07/05/2013

* China’s Supreme People’s Court judge urges end to wrongful convictions

SCMP: “One of China’s most senior judges has called for an end to miscarriages of justice by the nation’s courts after two cases of wrongful convictions have highlighted inadequacies in its legal system.

china-politics-shanghai-corruption_bej211_5089113.jpg

“If more of these wrongful criminal convictions appear, they will become an unprecedented challenge to the People’s Courts,” Shen Deyong, the executive vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, wrote in the People’s Court Daily on Monday.

The paper is the court’s official mouthpiece.

“It’s preferable to release someone wrongfully, than convict someone wrongfully,” he said. “If a true criminal is released, heaven will not collapse, but if an unlucky citizen is wrongfully convicted, heaven will fall.”

Criminal trials in China had a conviction rate of 99.9 per cent in 2009, according to the latest China Law Yearbook. In recent months, several murder cases have raised public ire against the judicial system.

Zhejiang’s provincial supreme court on March 26 overturned a decade-old death sentence with two-year reprieve and a 15-year prison sentence for two men convicted on murder charges for killing a woman in Hangzhou.

Caixin in April reported on the ordeal of a farmer wrongfully sentenced to death with reprieve in 2008 in Zhecheng, Henan province. Also in Zhecheng, convicted murderer Zhao Zuohai gained prominence in 2010, when his purported victim returned to the village and Zhao’s death sentence had to be overturned.

Last year, Henan started to hold judges responsible for their rulings even after retirement to reduce the number of miscarriages of justice.”

via Supreme People’s Court judge urges end to wrongful convictions | South China Morning Post.

09/10/2012

* China issues white paper on judicial reform

Reform in China continues apace.

China Daily: “The Chinese government issued Tuesday a white paper on judicial reform, highlighting the progress that has been made in safeguarding justice and protecting human rights.

The white paper was issued by the Information Office of the State Council.

Apart from reviewing China’s judicial system and reform process, the white paper focuses maintaining social fairness, justice and human rights protections.

“China’s judicial reforms are aimed at strengthening judicial organs’ capability to maintain social justice by optimizing the structure of the judicial organs and the allocation of their functions and power, standardizing judicial acts, improving judicial proceedings and enhancing judicial democracy and legal supervision,” it says.

Improving the protection of human rights is an important goal, the white paper says, adding that China’s Criminal Procedure Law amended in 2012 included “respecting and protecting human rights.”

In terms of protecting human rights, effective measures are being taken to deter and prohibit the obtainment of confessions through torture, better protect the rights of criminal suspects and defendants and protect attorneys’ rights to exercise their duties. Measures are also being taken to strictly control and prudently apply the death penalty.

Jiang Wei, a senior official in charge of the judicial system reform, said Tuesday at a press conference that China’s judicial system would be based on its reality, instead of simply copy from other countries.

A populous developing country, China still has problems in its judicial system, Jiang said.

The country’s economic and social development does not match the people’s increasing expectations for social justice. Capabilities of the judicial system do not meet the demand for judicial service, he said.

Imbalanced development in different regions also contributed to the existing problems, he added.

“The problems can only be solved by the Chinese way and the wisdom. Copying foreign experience or systems might lead to a bad end,” he said, in response to a question whether China’s judicial system should follow Western models.

However, he said, China is keen to learn from experience of other countries and will try to incorporate judicial concepts and practices utilized elsewhere.

Judicial reform, an important part of China’s overall political reform, remains a long and arduous task. The white paper urges continuous efforts to strengthen reforms with a goal of establishing a “just, effective and authoritative socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics.”

via China issues white paper on judicial reform |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn.

See also: http://chindia-alert.org/prognosis/chinese-challenges/

12/08/2012

* Bo Xilai scandal: Gu ‘admits Neil Heywood murder’

BBC News: “Gu Kailai has admitted murdering British businessman Neil Heywood and blamed her actions on a mental breakdown, Chinese state media report.

The state news agency Xinhua said the wife of former top politician Bo Xilai had apologised for what she described as the “tragedy” of Mr Heywood’s death.

She said she would “accept and calmly face any sentence”, the agency added.

Ms Gu was accused of poisoning Mr Heywood with cyanide last November, at her one-day trial on Thursday.

Her aide, Zhang Xiaojun, also admitted his involvement in the murder and said he wanted to apologise to Mr Heywood’s relatives, Xinhua reported in a detailed account of Thursday’s proceedings in court.”

via BBC News – Bo Xilai scandal: Gu ‘admits Neil Heywood murder’.

Incidentally, many Chinese news items use the name Bogu Kailai. That is because of the convention that the wife adopts the husband’s surname  and prefixes her surname with his. See: http://chindia-alert.org/2012/04/05/deciphering-chinese-names/

See also: 

09/08/2012

* Bo Xilai scandal: Gu Kailai on trial for Neil Heywood death

BBC News: “The first day of the trial of the wife of former high-flying Chinese lawmaker Bo Xilai on charges of murdering UK businessman Neil Heywood has ended.

Gu Kailai is accused of poisoning Mr Heywood in 2011 in Chongqing, where her husband was the Communist party head.

State media has called the case against her and an aide “substantial”.

The country is preparing to install a new generation of leaders, and Bo Xilai had once been seen as a strong contender for one of the top jobs.

He was sacked in March and is currently under investigation for unspecified “disciplinary violations”.

The BBC’s John Sudworth says some Chinese leaders are said to welcome the demise of such an openly ambitious colleague, but the case still needs careful handling for fear it might taint the Communist Party itself.”

via BBC News – Bo Xilai scandal: Gu Kailai on trial for Neil Heywood death.

 

07/08/2012

* In China’s Power Nexus, a Tale of Redemption

WSJ: “Liu Minghui’s battle to clear his name and save his business, a fight that pitted him against some of the most powerful forces in China, began the day of his company’s Christmas party in 2010.China Gas

Mr. Liu was set to leave his 18th-floor office in Shenzhen to cross the nearby border to Hong Kong for the party when plainclothes Public Security Bureau officers arrested him on suspicion of stealing money from the company he ran and co-founded, China Gas Holdings Ltd.

The former managing director spent nearly the next year in a Chinese jail, during which time he was forced to leave his executive and board roles at the company while remaining a substantial shareholder. He emerged from detention in time to see one of the country’s biggest companies launch a hostile offer for China Gas, the first by a state-owned business against a privately controlled company.

Now Mr. Liu’s comeback is nearly complete. He has been exonerated in the embezzlement case and is poised to win his fight with state-owned energy giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, and its partner, ENN Energy Holdings Ltd. The bidding consortium on Monday extended the deadline for the US$2.15 billion offer until early September, saying the bid is still waiting regulatory approval. But with the stock trading at a 22% premium to the offer price of 3.50 Hong Kong dollars a share, the group seems unlikely to attract the shareholder support needed to take control.

The case highlights the harsh nature of business in China, where the legal system is opaque and the fate of companies can be decided in Beijing. It remains unclear why Mr. Liu was arrested and then cleared, why Sinopec bid for his company and why a surprising group of white knights came to Mr. Liu’s rescue.”

via In China’s Power Nexus, a Tale of Redemption; Sinpec, China Gas, Liu Menghui – WSJ.com.

In the same issue of WSJ.com, this article shows the positive (though still opaque) side of Chinese criminal justice and another the opposite: http://chindia-alert.org/2012/08/07/chinese-criminal-procedure-at-its-worst/

07/08/2012

* Chinese Criminal Procedure at its Worst

WSJ: “On July 23rd in Guizhou province, lawyers obtained a partial victory for some  of the defendants accused of involvement in organized crime. Not all the accused were as fortunate, and the limited results came with the support of an intense Internet campaign to publicize gross violations of China’s Criminal Procedure Law by police and judges.

This case shows Chinese criminal procedure at its worst. It exposes extensive cooperation between police and court officials in violating Chinese procedural law to obtain convictions in a case brought during a nation-wide campaign with strong political overtones.  At the same time, it also provides a glimpse of the work of dedicated lawyers defending their clients and how they have begun to use the Internet to publicize the problems they encounter. The case is reported in great detail in a blog post on Tea Leaf Nation that is well worth reading and is the source of the following account of the events in this case to date.

In March 2010, Li Qinghong, a real-estate businessman, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for alleged involvement in organized crime  The case against Li and 16 others had begun in 2008 with a charge of gambling, but escalated in 2010 when a nation-wide “crackdown” campaign against organized crime was launched.  In this case, the Guizhou Provincial Coordination Office to Fight Organized Crime organized a meeting to mobilize police, prosecutors and courts to cooperate closely.

The case was remanded by the Guizhou Provincial Court for “lack of factual clarity,” and the Guiyang City District Court reprosecuted the case this year and increased the number of defendants to 57. The defendants’ lawyers took to the Internet to appeal for additional legal assistance, and were ultimately joined by lawyers from outside Guiyang Province. According to the CCP-led Global Times, a total of 88 lawyers formed a panel for the defense.

The defense lawyers say they regarded the case as a test of the entire criminal defense system, because it involved illegally obtained evidence, false testimony and the complicity of police and the courts in these procedural violations. At the trial more than 10 defendants testified to having been tortured, the police were not allowed to testify, and the court refused to exclude evidence that allegedly had been obtained illegally, according to the Tea Leaf Nation account. In addition, during the proceedings the court expelled four lawyers for their aggressive arguments on procedural violations.

The account goes on to say that court officers promised the defendants who were represented by lawyers from outside of Guizhou that they would receive lenient sentences if they fired those lawyers, which some did — only to reveal three weeks later that they had released their lawyers solely because of great pressure on them. Some of those defendants then rehired their lawyers.  After these events, one lawyer was quoted as saying “The criminal defense system in China is near its doomsday.”

The defense lawyers took their efforts to the public via the Internet in addition to vigorous arguments in court. They say that at issue was “the last defense, a life-or-death moment for the rule of law and for criminal defense.” They obtained only a partial victory:  Although some defendants were found innocent, defendant Li Qinghong was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Li has appealed.

The defense lawyers ascribed their (partial) success to a massive use of microblogs, having posted more than 1,000 tweets, including extensive daily updates via Sina Weibo, during the 47-day trial.  They emphasized that their use of social media filled a vacuum created by traditional media’s lack of attention to the case. They are quoted in the blog post as saying that these efforts, in addition to raising netizens’ awareness of the issues at stake in their case, “balanced the voice of the official media,” and helped to protect the lawyers’ personal safety.”

via Chinese Criminal Procedure at its Worst – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

In the same issue of WSJ.com, this article shows the ‘worst of’ Chinese criminal justice and another more ‘positive’ case: http://chindia-alert.org/2012/08/07/wsj-in-chinas-power-nexus-a-tale-of-redemption/

See also: http://unintend-conseq.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/social-media-triggers-revolutions.html

20/07/2012

* China artist Ai Weiwei’s tax evasion appeal rejected

BBC News: “A court in China has rejected an appeal by Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei against a tax evasion fine, his lawyer says.

Police barred Mr Ai from attending court in Beijing’s Chaoyang district to hear the verdict delivered.

Tax authorities imposed a 15m yuan ($2.4m, £1.5m) fine on Mr Ai’s firm for tax evasion in 2011. Supporters say the fine is politically motivated and Mr Ai wanted the court to overrule the penalty.

”We will keep appealing, until the day comes when we have nothing to lose,” Mr Ai said via Twitter. His lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was in court for the verdict, told reporters that the ruling was ”totally without reason”.

The artist, a outspoken critic of the government, was detained for almost three months without charge last year. “This country has once again proved to the world that law and justice don’t exist here” said Ai Weiwei on Twitter.

Outside his door witnesses counted up to 32 police cars.

His lawyers told the court the police were acting illegally preventing a free man from hearing the verdict in his own case. The entire case they say is illegal, from the secret detention of Mr Ai to the fact there’s no real evidence of tax evasion.

Ai Weiwei’s fame, his adept use of social media, his refusal to stay silent, and his persistent, sometimes impudent, criticisms of the Communist Party’s rule have all made this a litmus test for the way the party deals with dissent.

But, with the transfer of power to a new generation of leaders looming, China’s huge security apparatus appears determined to put ”stability” and ”harmony” first, and, critics will say, due process second.

After he was released, he was accused of tax evasion and the fine imposed.”

via BBC News – China artist Ai Weiwei’s tax evasion appeal rejected.

19/07/2012

Originally posted on China Daily Mail:

Gu Kailai and Patrick Devillers

A Frenchman who was being held in Cambodia because of his alleged links to Beijing’s biggest political scandal in two decades has been flown to China, where he is wanted as a witness in the case, Cambodia’s information minister said on Wednesday.

Patrick Henri Devillers, 52, was detained last month in Cambodia, where he had been living for several years. He was held at the behest of China because of his suspected business links to the wife of deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told reporters that Devillers, an architect, had taken a flight from Cambodia to China late on Tuesday and that he had left of his own free will, without an escort from the French embassy.

“He voluntarily went as a witness,” he said, adding that China had given an assurance that Devillers would only be required…

View original 173 more words

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