The Shanghai Illegal Cab Entrapment Case

(Shanghai Daily)  Entrapment claimed in seizure of 'black cab'  By Ni Yinbin, Wu Shen and Xu Chi.  October 17, 2009.

A SHANGHAI company said yesterday that one of its drivers was entrapped by traffic authorities investigating illegal cabs, and it is threatening legal action if the case is not quashed.

Similar allegations have been raised by other drivers who claim the traffic watchdog, which is in the midst of a two-year crackdown that has generated millions of yuan in fines, used bounty hunters to manufacture false evidence.

In the latest incident, the driver was so disturbed about the allegation that he cut off part of a finger in a misguided attempt to prove his innocence. The Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement Team for Pudong New Area has detained the company's vehicle and is investigating the case.

If the driver, Sun Zhongjie, who works for Shanghai Pangyuan Construction Machinery Engineering Co Ltd, is found guilty, Sun or the company will have to pay a fine of 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) to retrieve the confiscated minibus.

The company said Sun was innocent and claimed the 19-year-old was set up by the traffic team on a charge of operating an unlicensed cab after he picked up a pedestrian who asked for a lift.

"We think the team used entrapment," said Zhang Lili, an attorney for the firm. "Our company will take legal action if the enforcement team doesn't cancel the charge."

Authorities, however, denied any wrongdoing. "The hitchhiker was not our man," Yan Liangming, deputy general commander of the traffic team, said in a TV interview. Yan also said the team had evidence to support its actions.

The conflict began at about 7:30pm on Wednesday. Sun was driving the company's minibus to a supermarket in Pudong and encountered a young man standing in the middle of his lane waving at him. The man, wearing a thin shirt, claimed to be cold and pleaded for a ride, Sun said.

Before Sun agreed, the man got into his vehicle and Sun drove on. After about a five-minute ride, the man jumped out of the minibus and left 10 yuan behind, Sun said. At about the same time, Sun was stopped by two minibuses from which several men emerged.

Sun said he was forced to sign a penalty notice admitting he was operating an illegal cab or they wouldn't let him go. They then drove off in his vehicle.

Saying he felt aggrieved, Sun went home and cut off the little finger of his left hand with a knife. "I wanted to prove my innocence." Sun said, without specifying how the action would accomplish that goal. Sun was then sent to an army hospital where his finger was reattached.

Zhang Liwei, an official with Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement General Team, told a local newspaper yesterday that none of the 15 district teams hired private agents to entrap drivers. But Zhang said that people who help catch illegal cabbies can receive bounties of 200 to 300 yuan.

Shanghai's Minhang District People's Court accepted a lawsuit a week ago by a driver against the district's Traffic Law Enforcement Team, which fined him 10,000 yuan for operating an unlicensed cab. The driver, Zhang Jun, alleged entrapment and said he was merely giving a ride to an apparently sick stranger.

Four months ago, a driver was allegedly entrapped by the law enforcement team in Baoshan District. He later sued the team but a court dismissed the case. In 2008, a Minhang driver unsuccessfully sued traffic authorities twice over what he said were false charges of operating an unlicensed cab. The same year, a woman was stabbed by an unlicensed taxi driver while she was working undercover for the taxi watchdog.

"These undercover investigators are supported by the teams and get money for catching black cabbies," a veteran licensed cab driver told China Youth Daily. There are thousands of these bounty hunters in the city, mostly in suburban areas where black taxis are rampant, he said.


(China Daily)  Driver cuts finger to protest 'police trap'.  BY Cao Li.  October 20, 2009.

The Shanghai government is looking into the latest complaint of traffic authorities entrapping a taxi driver while investigating illegal cab operations.

The driver, Sun Zhongjie, 19, was so upset over the accusation that he cut off a piece of his little finger on his left hand to prove his innocence. He was sent to hospital immediately for surgery. "The doctor told me my finger may never recover its normal function," he said.

In the evening of Oct 14, Sun, driving a mini van, was sent by his employer, Shanghai Pangyuan Construction Machinery Engineering Company, to pick up someone at Hangtou Town in Pudong district. He arrived Shanghai only two days ealier from his hometown in Henan province.

"It was late and there were few cars on the street," Sun told China Daily. "Then I saw a man standing in the middle of the road and waving to me. I stopped the car and he opened the door and got in without asking me. Then he told me he was sick and cold, begging for a lift.

"I started the car. And in three minutes, at an intersection, a van slid from the right side and stopped in front of me."

Sun stopped the car and the hitchhiker threw a 10-yuan-note to Sun and jumped out. He disappeared when several people walked up to him and claimed they were from traffic enforcement.

"I thought they were robbers. I wanted to call police and they grabbed my phone. They told me that I had engaged in an illegal cab operation, which is not true," he said.

The vehicle was confiscated and Sun was given a receipt from the Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement Team for Pudong New Area, asking him to go to their office later to pay the fine and claim the van. According to traffic rules, Sun will have to pay a 10,000 yuan fine if the charge is proven true.

"I went back to my company and I was blamed for the incident. My brother said it was obviously entrapment and I should not have let the man in," he said. "I felt so angry and insulted and I cut off my finger."

But the authorities have denied it was entrapment. Yan Liangming, deputy general commander of the traffic team, said during a TV interview: "The hitchhiker was not our man." He also said the team had evidence to back up their actions.

Zhang Liwei, an official with Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement General Team, told Shanghai Evening News on Friday that none of the 15 district teams hired private agents to entrap drivers. But people who help catch illegal cabbies can receive bounties of 200 to 300 yuan.

On Sunday, the Shanghai municipal government responded in a statement that it will look into the situation. "Enforcement of traffic rules must conform to law. Illegal enforcement will be punished once proved," the statement says. However, such incidents have been revealed rarely.

The Pudong traffic authority declined comment. About one week ago, Shanghai's Minhang district court accepted a lawsuit by a driver against the district's Traffic Law Enforcement Team, which fined him 10,000 yuan for operating an unlicensed cab. The driver, Zhang Jun, said he was entrapped.


(China Daily)  'Entrapped' driver fights for reputation  By Cao Li.  October 23, 2009.

Through tears, 19-year-old Sun Zhongjie reassures his mother on the phone, telling her not to worry.

From the middle of the media whirlwind he now finds himself in, the driver from Henan province, who police say was the operator of an illegal taxi and who proclaims himself to be the victim of a police sting, says the truth will free him.

"The investigation will prove my innocence," he tells his mother, who is back in his hometown.

Last week, Sun made headlines when he chopped off his little finger as a way of declaring his innocence after police accused him of operating an unlicensed taxi.

He is facing a potential heavy fine but says the real wrongdoers are the traffic police who ensnare him and others in order to get a pay-day.

On Tuesday, local traffic authorities released the results of the investigation into Sun's claim that police entrapped him. The report said there was no wrongdoing, prompting criticism online that forced the local government to open up a second probe.

Sun, with his left hand heavily bandaged, said he has spoken with members of a team comprising legislators, lawyers and journalists about the Oct 14 incident.

"They asked me what happened that evening and afterwards," Sun said. "I have also raised questions concerning entrapment. They said they are looking into it."

Sun, who was apprehended on Oct 14 during a crackdown in Shanghai against illegal and unlicensed taxis, said he had only arrived in the city two days before. He insists he was on his way to pick up someone from his company when he stopped for a man begging for a lift.

Three minutes later, he was stopped by members of the local traffic law enforcement team and accused of operating an illegal taxi.

His car was confiscated and he was detained in the back of their van, where he met another man facing the same charges. Both men believed the "hitchhiker" they picked up separately that night was the same man and Sun quickly came to feel he was the victim of entrapment.

Later that evening, feeling angry and frustrated, Sun cut off his finger as a protest.

After surgery, Sun returned to the law enforcement team to record his affidavit on Oct 16 and 19.

While a verdict has not yet been reached in his case, the Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement Team for Pudong New Area released the results of its investigation on Tuesday into allegations of entrapment, saying there had not been any illegality.

However, the law enforcement team refused to release the identity of the "hitchhiker", citing privacy issues.

In an online poll on local xinmin.cn, more than 98 percent of nearly 20,000 netizens said they did not believe the government department had conducted a fair investigation.

On Wednesday, the municipal government seemed to backtrack, saying the investigation was not yet over and pointing out that a team of legislators, political advisors, lawyers and media will also participate.

According to the Beijing Morning Post, more than 1,000 people help traffic law enforcement staffers snare drivers. In Shanghai, traffic law enforcement teams give people who report illegal taxis between 200 yuan ($29) and 600 yuan for tip-offs.

On Wednesday, a man told CCTV he had worked undercover for traffic police and earned more than 20,000 yuan a month. The man said he once had about 20 people working for him as "professional trappers".

China Youth Daily reported that the Minhang district traffic rule enforcement team fined more than 5,000 "illegal cars" between 2007 and 2008. The drivers were fined a total of 50 million yuan.


(Southern Metropolis Daily)  CCTV strongly challenges the Shanghai entrapment investigative report.  By Tan Renwei.  October 21, 2009.

Netizen: You said that the passenger stepped on your brake and snatched your car key.  But how can anyone in the passenger seat step on the brake?  Are you making it up?

Sun Zhongjie: This netizen may not have driven a Cheshi vehicle.  The passenger can reach the brake just by stretching the leg."

18-year-old Sun Zhongjie was in Shanghai only two days when he encountered "entrapment-like" law enforcement.  He chopped off his small finger in anger.  The Shanghai municipal government intervened and the relevant departments conducted an investigation whose results were disclosed yesterday.  The report denied that entrapment was used.  This made Sun Zhongjie very angry.  He asked: "If they were not entrapping me, why would they seize my car key and step on the brake?!"

Following the footsteps of People's Daily, CCTV's News Channel and Economic Channel also turned their attention to the Shanghai illegal cab entrapment yesterday and raised doubts about the investigative report.

The elder brother Sun Zhongji told our reporter that neither the law enforcement agency nor the investigative team ever contacted them.  The family is financially strapped and cannot afford the 10,000 yuan fine.  They hope that some kind-hearted people can provide legal aid so that they can get their day in court.

On October 17, the Shanghai municipal government asked the Pudong New District government to investigate this case and release the findings expeditiously.  The Shanghai municipal government solemnly promised: "We will sternly deal with any efforts to obtain evidence illegally."

The relevant department in the Pudong New District entered the case that day.  On October 19, a special investigative team headed by the deputy mayor of the Pudong New District was established and a full investigation was conducted, including interviewing the principal law enforcement personnel involved in the case itself.

Yesterday, the Pudong New District Municipal Administration Law Enforcement Bureau held a press conference and published the <Investigative Report on the case of Sun Zhongjie being suspected of driving an illegal cab on October 14>.  The report said that the Pudong New District Municipal Administration Law Enforcement Bureau has conducted a full investigation with the assistance of the Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement Division.  According to the investigation, the Nanhui District Traffic Law Enforcement Division found Sun Zhongjie suspected of driving an illegal cab near Number 188 on Zha Hang Road, Pudong New District at around 8pm on the evening of October 14.  The facts are clear and the evidence is solid.  The law was properly enforced without any illegal means to obtain evidence.  Therefore, this was not an "entrapment" case.

At the press conference, the CCTV reporter repeatedly asked about the identity of the passenger because it is the key issue for the entrapment case.  The responses by the law enforcement departments were evasive.

The reporter asked whether "entrapment" existed in Shanghai.  The Pudong New District Law Enforcement Office director Ding Jianguo changed the subject.  The reporter interrupted him and demanded a direct answer.  Ding Jianguo said that he was giving a direct answer.  "We are talking about Pudong New District, and the situation has not arisen here so far."

CCTV reporter Liu Nan said that after repeated questions from reporters, the investigative team finally gave a description of the passenger -- it was a "righteous" civilian.  Previously, in the case of Zhang Jun, the Mingheng Construction and Traffic Committee officials also said that the passenger was a "righteous person."

The reporter asked, "What is the reason for not disclosing the identity of the passenger?"  The Pudong New District City Environment Protection Bureau deputy director Li Chunming said that the identity of the passenger will be made known after the case enters the legal phase.  Li Chunming said, "Clearly, Sun Zhongjie's account is completely different from that of the passenger."  The reporter asked which account is accurate.  Li Chunming said that the accurate one is the one which is based upon the facts.

In last night's CCTV <News 1+1> program, the host Bai Yansong raised the question about which of the two individuals on the car should be believed?  If there is clear evidence (such as a recording), then the case is clearly entrapment.  If there is no recording, then this is just plain talk.  Who is to say that the passenger should be believed but not the driver?

In front of the entrance to the office of the Nanhui District Law Enforcement Division, the CCTV reporter found many other car owners who were complaining about their own similar cases.  One of them took out a Shanghai City law enforcement ID and said that even though he was a law enforcement worker, he was fined 10,000 yuan for being kind-hearted.

While the press conference was going on, Sun Zhongjie was waiting outside.  After he read the investigative report, he was very upset.

"This is so unfair to me.  If they were not entrapping me, why would they seize my car key and step on the brake?!  If they were enforcing the law in a normal way, why won't they show me their work IDs when they arrested me?  Why did they show me their IDs only when they took the statement?  Why?  Let them explain the reason."

In front of many reporters, Sun Zhongjie swore: "I swear to the Heavens that if I were an illegal cab driver, may I be run over by a car."

The elder brother Sun Zhongji was interviewed by our reporter last evening.  He said that he and his younger brother are very angry, because they completely disagree with the findings.

He believed that there is clear evidence that this was an "entrapment" case.  First of all, the passenger asked Sun Zhongjie to stop and then he seized the car key and stepped on the brake.  His actions were well-seasoned.  Even more suspiciously, Sun Zhongjie was brought onto the police van where he met another company owner named He who was in a similar situation.  The two compared notes that found out their "passengers" had the identical characteristics.  It was almost certain that it was the same person.  If the law enforcement agency said that the passengers was a "righteous citizen," then how could he denounce two "illegal cabs" on the same night in the same place?

Also, the the report asserted that Sun Zhongjie was intercepted at the regular check point set up the law enforcement agency during normal operations.  But Sun Zhongjie said that the "passenger" yelled "It's here, it's here" to direct him to stop.

The report referred to the recording made after Sun Zhongjie was brought into the law enforcement van, but there was no mention of any recording provided by the "passenger.  Sun Zhongji recalled that a Shanghai reporter had asked him what they would do if the law enforcement agency had a recording by the "passenger."  After the case went public, the Internet opinion was that the existence of a recording by the "passenger" is direct proof of entrapment.  Thereafter, the officials never mentioned such a recording anymore.

...

On CCTV's News Channel's <News 1+1>, Bai Yansong pointed out that the law enforcement agency's position that "it is none of your business if someone is having a stomach ache" only serves to destroy the moral bottom line in society.  People will cease to perform good deeds.  If you perform a good deed, someone might give you a 10 yuan note.  What will you do then?  If we investigated ten cases and nine of them were "illegal cabbies" but one was innocent.  The social costs for mistaking that tenth case is far more than nabbing the nine illegal cabs.  We cannot apply the evil nature of some people as the evil nature of the act itself.

In CCTV2's <Economic 30 Minutes>, the program ended with the clear note on "We will wait to see who is breaking the law."  If the evidence ultimately showed that Zhang Jun and Sun Zhongjie were entrapped, the result is not as simple as pronouncing them innocent.  If the law enforcement officers used false evidence, they are guilty of making false accusations; if they received job performance bonuses through deception, they are guilty of defrauding the government (and the taxpayers).

====

Here is the description of events by Sun Zhongjie:

At around 7:30pm on October 14, I was returning from the Jinkangbo'er worksite.  After I took the workers back to their dormitory, I got a gas refill card to get gas.  I arrived at the bus stop near the intersection of Zhanghang Road and Zhaodai Road.  Suddenly a twenty-something-year old man with a bag came up.  He pretended to be pitiful.  He said, "Master, can you take me to my destination?  I have an urgent matter."  At the time, I did not agree to let him get in.  But he got in anyway.  I observed that he was only wearing a t-shirt.  I felt somewhat sorry for him.  So I let it be.

After he got into the car, he said that he would be according to standard taxi rates.  I was busy driving the car and I did not reply.  After four or five minutes, the man said that this was the place.  So I slowed down and stopped the car.  At that instant, he took out 10 yuan, threw in on the right hand side of my dashboard, stretched his foot to step on the brake and took my car key.  I saw a van came up in front of me and several plainclothes men rushed out.  They claimed that they were from the law enforcement division.  They said that I was running an illegal cab.  I explained that the man who just got into my car could explain everything, but he had left.

They gave me a notice to sign.  They said that I was driving an illegal cab and they were going to fine me 10,000 yuan.  I refused to sign.  By 9pm, I really had to use the bathroom and so I signed.

When I got back to my rented room, I was really angry at being falsely accused after trying to perform a good deed.  The company car was also impounded.  The more I thought about it, the worse I felt.  I ran into the kitchen, took out the chopper and cut off the small finger on my left hand.  I did not know how to defend my rights.  Under the circumstances at the time, I really did not know what I could do.  I only did this because I was in utter despair.  At the time, I even thought about dying in order to establish my innocence.

I am innocent.  The case must be thoroughly investigated.  I am really innocent.  I had been in Shanghai for only three days, and I drove a car for only two days before this happened.  I am really innocent.  I hope that they can thoroughly investigate this case and establish my innocence.

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  October 22, 2009.

When the October 20 report came out, it was met with broad skepticism.  The CCTV program <News 1+1> citied the doubts that are unaccounted for.  On the next day, the CCTV program asked <When the father investigates the son, who is going to believe it?>  People's Daily ran an online survey on <What do you think about the assertion by the Pudong New District that there was no entrapment?>.  96% of 5,546 votes were for "suspicious -- the results from a self-investigation is not convincing."

At noon on October, the Shanghai Internet media issued a press release: <In order to increase supervision over law enforcement and to insist on rule of law and fairness in law enforcment, the Pudong New District People's Government has decided to establish a joint investigation team on October 20 to re-investigate the case of October 14 about illegal cab operation."

Unlike the previous investigation in which "the father investigated the son," this new investigation team will be formed from the Shanghai city and Pudong New District People's Congress delegates, members of the Communist Party Political Consultative Conference, lawyers and representatives from national and local media.

At 23:15 on October 21, Chai Jing said on the CCTV program <24 hours> that she had just called the Pudong New District Publicity Department and was told that they decided to form a new investigative team because they saw how seriously dissatisfied people were with the original investigation by the Law Enforcement Bureau itself.  Chai Jing said, "Since the new investigation team was formed because people had many questions, we hope ultimately that the new investigation will provide answers to all the questions."

Yesterday, EastDay published an interview with Ding Jianguo, which is deputy director of the Pudong New District Urban Management Combined Law Enforcement Office.  Ding was one of the members of the original investigation team.

Throughout the interview, Ding Jianguo kept repeating, "I am frustrated."  He firmly insisted that Sun Zhongjie was driving an illegal taxi.  He said that the determination of whether someone was driving an illegal taxi depends on three conditions.  First, the car owner was not licensed to drive a taxi.  Secondly, the informant hailed the car to let him in.  Thirdly, there was a transaction during the process.  Based upon the investigation so far, Ding Jianguo believed that all three conditions have been met.

As at the press conference, Ding Jianguo refused to state explicitly whether they use "hooks" to entrap illegal cabs.  Instead he emphasized that citizens should not be discouraged to denounce illegal cabs: "The public opinion seems to be that the only way to combat illegal cabs is through entrapment.  This is unfair to those passengers who dared to come forth to denounce illegal cabs."  "We are sympathetic too, but we seemed to demonize whenever we come up against weak and vulnerable groups."

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  October 26, 2009.

According to the investigation by Xinhua's <Xinhua Viewpoint> reporter, the passenger named Chen who was in the car of Sun Zhongjie was no ordinary civilian.  On the day when the Nanhui Traffic Administration Law Enforcement Division conducted an operation against illegal cab, the location and time of the action were communicated by a person named Jiang to this Chen person.  The reporter verified that Chen was a "hook" for the fishing operations run by the law enforcement agency while Jiang was a "hook head" (i.e. the leader of a group of "hooks").

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  October 26, 2009.

Xinhua has reported that the "hook" who lured Sun Zhongjie into the trap obtained the news about the operation from a person named Jiang Guohui, who is a veteran "hook head".

According to informed persons who have worked for Jiang, Jiang Guohui is in his 40's and hails from the Fengxian district of Shanghai.

In 1995, Shanghai established regulations about the management of cabs.  "Anyone who operates a cab illegally will have all his illegal earnings confiscated as well as fined between 2,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan or ten times the amount of the illegal earnings."  In that year, "hooks" began to appear.

Fengxian district was the first to have an inspection team to curb illegal cabs.  Therefore, the "hooks" appeared first in Fengxian district.  Of the "hooks" in Shanghai, 30% comes from Fengxian.  Presently, the biggest "hook head" named Cai is based in Fengxian district and he has 50 to 60 "hooks" working underneath him.  Jiang Guohui began as a "hook" working for Cai before he became a "hook head" himself in 1998.

The various "hook groups" have their distinct areas of operation.  Jiang Guohui began in the Mingheng district, and he also extorted protection money from illegal cab drivers.  About 2001, he was denounced by a "hook" with the illegal cab drivers to the police.  He was sentenced to 3 years in jail.  Eighteen months later, he was released early and returned to Mingheng district to continue to operate as a "hook head."  Later, Jiang moved his territory to Nanhui District.  His team is the only one that operates in Nanhui.

According to information, the "pay" for "hooking" cars vary across districts in Shanhai.  In Nanhui, the pay is 250 yuan per car.  In Jiading and Qingpu, it is 400 yuan; in Mingheng, 500 yuan; in Fengxian, 600 yuan.  The money is paid every month to the "hook heads" from the various district traffic law enforcement bureaus.  Actually, they only get about 80% of the amount because the bureaus keep a fraction.

In the case of Mingheng district, the "hook head" gets 400 yuan per car.  He keeps 200 yuan for himself and gives 200 yuan to the "hook."  A "hook" can earn as much as 5,000 to 6,000 yuan per month or as little as 2,000 to 3,000 yuan per month.  The "hook head" can easily make 10,000 to 20,000 yuan per month.  In this small circle, it is a highly desirable job to become a "hook head."

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  October 26, 2009.

According to Xinhua, the Shanghai municipal government will announce at its regular press conference on October 26 that the Pudong New District will terminate all "fishing" operations (as in the case of Sun Zhongjie) and apologize to the public.  In addition, the Mingheng district obtained evidence improperly in the case of Zhang Jun and therefore the penalty in that case shall be rescinded.

As for the October 20 preliminary investigation findings by the Pudong New District urban law enforcement bureau, the conclusion was that they were "unclear on the facts, erroneous in the findings and hasty in the release of the results.  The Shanghai municipal government will hold the relevant persons accountable."

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  October 26, 2009.

Xinmin disclosed yesterday that the findings of the second investigation may be released today.  However, the findings have already been unequivocally made clear by Xinhua yesterday.  Xinhua is the national media representative on the second investigation team, and therefore its report must be considered authoritative.

Yesterday, Xinhua published the opinion piece <Brave in rectifying errors, gain the trust of the people>.  The author is Shen Haixiong,, who is the publisher/chief editor of the Shanghai bureau of Xinhua.  The essay said that the Shanghai city party and government leaders have pointed out improper methods of law enforcement must be rectified and eliminated; and the results must be released in a pragmatic, highly transparent manner to the people under the principle that "mistakes must be rectified." 

At the same time, the Pudong New District party and government have also investigated the Sun Zhongjie case and concluded that the preliminary findings of the first investigation were not done in any depth or to any detail but hastily released.  Those findings were inconsistent with the facts, misled the public and damaged the images of Shanghai and Pudong.

"It is not terrible to make mistakes during the process of law enforcement.  What is terrible is the attitude towards those mistakes.  Do you want to discover the truth and correct any mistakes found?  Or do you want to cover it up or gloss over it?  Do you want to stand back and reflect on your mistakes, or do you want to continue repeating those same mistakes?  This is a test of the administrative capabilities for all levels of the Party and the Government.  Fortunately, after the 'hook' incident occurred, the comrades at Shanghai city Party Committee, the People's Congress, the city government and the city political consultative conference responded and enabled the truth to emerge step by step."

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  October 26, 2009.

Yesterday, the two Shanghai news websites took diametrically opposite positions in the reporting/commentary of the case of Sun Zhongjie.

The headline over at Xinmin was <Shanghai upper echelon dissatisfied with Pudong findings and invites various sectors of society to investigate the case of Sun Zhongjie thoroughly>. 

The headline over at Eastday was <Should illegal cabs be prosecuted?  Gathering advice on how to deal with illegal cabs>.  This was accompanied by an essay titled <Do not "demonize" the clean-up of illegal cabs>.  The relevant news links did not address the "fishing operation," the "reverse hooks" and "the chopped finger."  Instead, they refer to the evils of "illegal cabs": <'Illegal cabs' only care about money but disregard safety>, <Personal experience: female white-collar worker almost thrown out of illegal cab>, <Oral narrative: Driver "seize" luggage to get customer in the middle of the night>.

Both websites also offered Internet public opinion polls.

Xinmin asked <What is your opinion of the investigation findings of the Pudong New District?>.  51% of the respondents said that "investigating your own people is not credible"; 42% said "a new and thorough investigation should be conducted"; 2% said "I believe in the Pudong New District."

EastDay asked "Should illegal cabs be prosecuted?>  The questions include "Do you think that illegal cabs pose danger?>, "How do you think illegal cabs should be cleaned up?> and so on.  The statement <Make urban traffic perfect so that 'illegal cabs' have no opportunity> gained 72% support.  "Increase penalties against 'illegal cabs'" and other choices receive more than 7% approval.

In the comments to the EastDay poll, there were lots of criticisms.  "This is a very odd choice of questions.  The law enforcement agency worked with hooks to defraud the citizens, and you ask whether this should continue?"  "Nobody is opposed to cleaning out illegal cabs, but these questions are switching the concept.  Is it alright to commit crimes in order to fight crime?"  "The issue is not about whether to clean illegal cabs out or not.  The issue is about whether hooks are being used to enforce the law.  This is a issue over law enforcement.  Will EastDay please revise the topic of this poll."

(Xinhua)  Shanghai municipal gov't confirms trap in enforcement against illegal cab operations.  October 26, 2009.

The Shanghai municipal government confirmed Monday that local transport supervisors entrapped a van driver while investigating illegal cab operations. The Pudong New Area government will end the case according to law and make an open apology to the public, it was disclosed at an executive meeting of the Shanghai municipal government. Investigation found the former Nanhui District transport supervision team used wrongful methods to collect evidence in the case, according to a press conference Monday morning by Pudong New Area government. Nanhui District became part of Pudong New Area in May.

The case involved a 19-year-old driver named Sun Zhongjie, who was seized allegedly conducting "illegal cab operation" on Oct. 14,after he picked up a pedestrian who asked for a lift. Sun said he was ensnared by the urban management staff who were in charge of investigating unlicensed cabs, or "black cab". The pedestrian Chen Xiongjie made false statement to the investigation staff, according to the press conference in Pudong. Sun cut off a piece of the little finger of his left hand to prove his innocence. His injured finger is expected to recover as the surgery went well, according to the press conference.

The Pudong urban management authorities said on Oct. 20 that local transport supervisors did not entrap the van driver, and the local transport supervisors' enforcement "was legitimate, and related means to collect evidence was not inappropriate, according to earlier reports.

It was also learned at the Shanghai municipal government executive meeting that improper evidence collection was involved in a similar case in Minghang District. A local driver named Zhang Hui was fined 10,000 yuan (1,464 U.S. dollars) by the district's traffic law enforcement team for allegedly operating illegal cab services after he gave ride to a sick stranger on Sept. 8. The Minhang District government will revoke the previous punishment on the driver, according to the meeting.

The Shanghai municipal government asked the Pudong New Area and Minhang District governments to timely release their investigation conclusions to the public. People held accountable for making wrong conclusion and rash release of the investigation results on Oct. 20 will be punished according to relevant regulations, said the municipal government.

Shanghai will set up a special task force led by the deputy mayor to rectify the transport operations and standardize law enforcement activities. Meanwhile, the government will improve the public transportation services to meet the demand of local people.

(China Daily)  Severed-finger driver cleared  By Cao Li.  October 27, 2009.

Sun Zhongjie could not contain his tears yesterday when he learned an investigation had proved his innocence - two weeks after he chopped off his finger to protest police claims he was the driver of an illegal cab. "I'm happy," sobbed the 19-year-old from Henan province after he received the apology from Shanghai City Administration and Law Enforcement Bureau for Pudong New Area District. In addition, Sun was told he will be compensated for his ordeal.

Jiang Liang, the head of Pudong district, said at a press conference that police adopted "improper methods" in evidence collection when they snared Sun on Oct 14.  Jiang said officers had paid a man to act as bait and entrap Sun, something that is illegal in China but a practice critics believe is widespread. Jiang added that the findings of an investigation, which ended on Oct 20, conducted by Shanghai City Administration and Law Enforcement Bureau for Pudong New Area District, reached the wrong conclusion. That probe had claimed Sun was guilty and said the enforcement team had done nothing wrong. Jiang said the government also wanted to apologize to the public for the incident. "People who are responsible for illegal law enforcement and for the false investigation will be punished according to the law," Jiang said. "The Pudong New Area district government will learn a lesson from the incident and regulate law enforcement against illegal cab operations."

Sun, who had arrived in Shanghai two days earlier, was stopped on Oct 14 by a man begging for a lift. Three minutes later, he was cornered by traffic law enforcement police and accused of operating an unlicensed taxi. Sun vehemently denied taking money from the man and severed his finger as a demonstration of his frustration and innocence.

Huang Hong, a senior official with the Pudong district government, confirmed that the man picked up by Sun - Chen Xiongjie - was on the payroll of the traffic law enforcement team and had been used by police as bait. "Chen provided a false affidavit and denied the fact that he had previously engaged in illegal law enforcement," Huang said.

Also yesterday morning, Minhang district government announced it had withdrawn a penalty against Zhang Hui, who was fined 10,000 yuan ($1,470) in September for "operating an unlicensed taxi". Zhang was stopped on Sept 8 by a man claiming to have severe stomach pain. The man said he could not find a taxi and needed to get to hospital. Five minutes later, Zhang's car was stopped by law enforcement staff and he was accused of operating a "black taxi".

Hao Jinsong, a lawyer representing both Sun Zhongjie and Zhang Hui, urged the government to investigate illegal law enforcement practices used to crack down on unlicensed taxi operators. "Since the two incidents in Shanghai were reported, I have been receiving letters and calls from across the country from people telling me they were also trapped," he said. "It is estimated that several thousand drivers in Shanghai are trapped every year during police crackdowns against 'black taxis'." The lawyer called on all 18 districts in Shanghai to investigate illegal law enforcement.

Jiang Liang admitted yesterday that Sun's case was not the only instance of illegal traffic law enforcement uncovered to date. Shanghai municipal government announced yesterday it had set up a new team to regulate public transportation and raid illegal traffic law enforcement operations. It will be led by a vice-mayor.


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