Li Zhuang's Second Trial
The background material is at Lawyers In Trouble In Chongqing. Lawyer Li Zhuang appealed the verdict and the second trial is being held. The results are nothing short of incredible. Whereas you might expect lawyer Li Zhuang to talk about freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law in China, he said something quite unexpected. Read on ...
(China Youth Daily) Li Zhuang: "I did it to fabricate evidence, to deceive the prosecutor and the judges." By Deng Lin and Zhuang Qinghong. February 3, 2010.
At 9:30am on February 2, the second trial of "Lawyer Gate" (in which lawyer Li Zhuang was charged with fabricating evidence and tampering with witnesses) began in the Number One Middle People's Court in Chongqing city.
As soon as the court session began, the chief judge Jiang Lin asked the defendant Li Zhuang for his reason of appealing the verdict in the first trial. Li Zhuang said something surprising: "I withdraw the former reasons for making the appeal. The former reasons for making the appeal are null and void. I believe that the verdict in the first trial was clear, the evidence was concrete, the law was properly applied and the process was in accordance with the law."
Once he said that, everybody in the courtroom was astonished. Li Zhuang's defense lawyer Chen Youxi asked: "Li Zhuang, you should consider carefully. You should know the legal consequences of saying so."
Li Zhuang replied: "I know the consequences."
[Important note not present in the CYD article: Li Zhuang added: "But I will continue with my appeal."]
In court, Li Zhuang's first defense lawyer Gao Zicheng asked the question about how Li Zhuang learned that his client Gong Gangmo had been tortured. Li Zhuang replied: "I found out by asking him."
Gao Zicheng asked: "Did you tell Wu Jiayou said that you wanted him to find police officers who will testify that they witnessed Gong Gangmo being tortured?"
Li Zhuang said: "I said it."
"Did you say that you would give money to Wu Jiayou for this purpose?"
"I said 'at all costs' but we did not get into the details about the money."
The prosecutor then asked Li Zhuang: "You just said that you admitted to the crimes charged against you in the first trial. So is it true that when you met with Gong Gangmo, you instructed him to come up with the false testimony about being tortured?"
Li Zhuang said, "That's true."
The prosecutor asked: "How did you direct him?"
Li Zhuang replied: "I went up close to the iron-barred window and I whispered to him."
"You told Wu Jiayou to bribe policemen to bear false witness. Is that true?"
"How did you tell Wu Jiayou?"
"It took place in the hotel lobby as I saw him out. I said that he must get policemen to testify at all costs."
The prosecutor asked: "What kind of testimony?"
Li Zhuang said: "False testimony about any torture to extract confession."
During the questioning about Gong Gangmo's wife Cheng Qi, Li Zhuang said in court: "I was in Cheng Qi's hospital room to tell her about how to fabricate the extortions. But Cheng Qi said that she was on intravenous feed fourteen hours a day and she needed to get the doctor's permission. In the end, no decision was made."
Concerning the matter of Gong Gangmo's cousin Gong Ganghua, the defense lawyer asked: "You spoke to Gong Ganghua about shutting down the Baoli Night Club?"
Li Zhuang: "Here is what was said. I asked Gong Ganghua: 'Is the Baoli Night Club still opened?' He said yes, but it is losing money. I said, 'If it is losing money, why keep it opened?'"
Li Zhuang admitted: "Gong Ganghua knew even less about Gong Gangmo's business than I did. I told him: 'The actual investor in Baoli Night Club is your cousin who put up 15 million yuan.' I told him, 'You arrange someone to deny that your cousin is the investor'."
The prosecutor asked: "Why did you do that?"
Li Zhuang answered: "In order to fabricate evidence. In order to achieve the goal by fabricating evidence."
"What was the purpose of fabricating evidence?"
Li Zhuang replied: "In order to deceive the prosecutors and the judges."
"What was the ultimate goal?"
"In order for Gong Gangmo to evade all criminal liabilities." Li Zhuang replied.
As for "whether he read the notes by the co-defendants to Gong Gangmo during their meeting," Li Zhuang said, "I wouldn't say that I read it. I only told him, 'Fan Qihang's notes about the murders did not name you'."
During the introduction of the evidence, lawyer Gao Zicheng objected to the evidence presented during the first trial: "The physical examination results at the Nanchuan Detention Centre between June 19 and August 15, 2009 that indicated that he was healthy and uninjured are false."
At that moment, Li Zhuang raised his hand and said, "Let me remind the defense lawyer. I happen to think that the physical examination report is real. Gong Gangmo told me himself that he was not tortured during the time that he was at the Nanchuan Detention Centre."
The defense lawyer also objected to the physical examination results at the Jiangbei District Detention Centre by pointing out that "Gong Gangmo had injuries on his hands."
At that moment, Li Zhuang also spoke up: "Let me interject. Lawyer Gao Zicheng only saw signs of injury, but he does not know how the injuries occurred. Therefore, I think that this evidence is objective and true."
Gao Zicheng also thought that the testimony of the witnesses Wu Jiayou and Ma Xiaojun were "untruthful and illegal." Lawyer Chen Youxi objected to all 33 items of evidence accepted during the first trial because some of them are unrelated to the case while the others "proved precisely the innocence of Li Zhuang."
Six witnesses including Gong Gangmo testified in person and answered questions from both sides.
Gao Zicheng asked Gong Gangmo: "Are you testifying voluntarily today in this court? Did the court, the police or the procuratorate talk to you before you came to court? Why were you not present at the first trial?"
Gong Gangmo: "I am in this court voluntarily. Before I came, the court contacted me. The police and the procuratorate did not contact me. During the first trial, I did not come because I thought that my statement had already explained everything clearly. I did not want to appear in court."
Gao Zicheng asked: "When you were interviewed by CCTV, you said that Li Zhuang blinked at you to make a hint. Is that true?"
Gong Gangmo said; "That's true. Li Zhuang blinked his eyes. He also made verbal hints. When he spoke, he kept nodding his head."
Gao Zicheng asked: "You look at my eyes right now. Am I hinting for you to overturn your testimony? You look at my eyes?" Then he became silent and stared at Gong Gangmo.
On the key question as to "who mentioned torture during the interrogation during the meeting," Gong Gangmo said in court, "It was Li Zhuang."
Gong Gangmo recalled in court: "I was relatively excited at the first meeting. I had never met a lawyer before. I was standing up and quite close to Li Zhuang. I was very nervous at the time. Li Zhuang said, 'You don't look like a gangster.' He paced back and forth. When he got near the iron barrier, he whispered, 'You must overturn your testmony. If you don't, you will die for sure.'"
Gong Gangmo recalled that Li Zhuang mentioned that Cheng Qi would tesify. "Li Zhuang said: 'I arranged for your wife to testify for you.' I remembered asking him at the time, 'Can a wife testify?' He said yes."
As to the matter of Li Zhuang instructing Gong Gangmo to say 'that he was unwilling to lend money to Li Minghang and that it was extortion," the lawyer asked: "Were you willing to lend money to Li Minghang?"
Gong Gangmo replied, "Since I lent the money to him, I was obviously willing."
The lawyer asked: "Did the police torture you during interrogation?"
Gong Gangmo replied: "No."
Concerning the pigment scar on Gong Gangmo that the legal doctor found on his left hand, the lawyer asked: "How did you get this wound?"
Gong Gangmo said, "I did not notice. I scratched it when I was playing in Nanyalong Bay, Hainan last April or May. When I got back, I applied some iodine to it. I never sought treatment. It was already there before I got to the Nanchuan Detention Centre. I never felt that it was an injury. The doctor at the Detention Centre asked me whether I had any injuries. I said no."
The defense lawyer asked about "whether any judges or prosecutors spoke to you about the injuries" and Gong Gangmo replied, "No."
When the defense lawyer Chen Youxi cross-examined Gong Gangmo, the prosecutor objected many times because the questions were either "leading" or "irrelevant."
Lawyer Chen Youxi loudly interrupted the prosecutor many times, "Objection? What are you objecting to? Your objective is invalid!"
The chief judge issued a formal warning to lawyer Chen Youxi: "Lawyer Chen Youxi, this court has already warned both sides about their lack of civility. When one side wants to object, that side should be able to articulate its reason for objecting. This court has re-iterated this point. Lawyer Chen, you should not be interrupting the other side, and especially not interrupting when the court is speaking This court is giving you a formal warning. Please express your opinions calmly and follow the rules of the court."
After being questioned for 90 minutes, Gong Gangmo stepped down. His final words: "This is the reason why I don't want to appear in court. This questioning is making my head dizzy."
The court recessed for 40 minutes during the middle of the day. At 1:40pm, the court resumed hearing. Gong Ganghua was the second witness to testify.
"On November 24 last year, we were with Li Zhuang in a teahouse. Li Zhuang asked me to tell a worker at the Baoli Night Club not to say that Gong Gangmo is the boss. He told me to close Baoli down and dismiss all the workers. Li Zhuang also told me that he had met Gong Gangmo and told him to claim in court about being suspended and beaten."
"Li Zhuang let Wu Jiayou spend money to bribe some policemen to testify in court. Wu Jiayou said that it was illegal. Li Zhuang told me that there is nothing that cannot be handled by spending more money." Gong Ganghua said.
Gao Zicheng asked, "During the first trial, I asked you to testify in court. Did the court notify you?"
Gong Ganghua said, "They notified me, but I did not want to be present in court."
Chongqing lawyer Wu Jiayou who had represented Gong Gangmo previously and discussed the case with Li Zhuang many times was the third witness to appear in court.
"When Li Zhuang spoke to me about the case of Gong Gangmo, he said that he had instructed Gong Gangmo to overturn his testimony. Li Zhuang said that he hoped that I would go and find the police officers or doctors who had interrogated Gong Gangmo or witnessed his interrogation to say that Gong Gangmo had been tortured. I said that this was impossible. Li Zhuang also suggested to look up the industrial/commercial database. If the data says that Tang Xiao was the boss but not Gong Gangmo, then Gong Gangmo does not own any shares in the Baoli Night Club and does not support the growth of the crime gang."
Li Zhuang asked Wu Jiayou: "There are two doctors in Tieshanping, one named Wang and the other named Tang. Did I tell you that, or did Gong Gangma make it up, or did you say so?" Gao Zicheng also asked a similar question.
Wu Jiayou answered: "I did not say that. I only heard Li Zhuang related that and that is all I know. How would I know who made it up? I don't know who specifically said that."
Afterwards, laywer Gao Zicheng asked why Wu Jiayou did not testify during the first trial. "Article 47 of the <Criminal Prosecution Law> states that the testimony of the witness should be established and questioned by both side. Article 141 requires the witness to be present in court unless there are special circumstances such as illnesses etc, or unless the testimony is not key in the decision."
Wu Jiayou replied, "According to the <Criminal Prosecution Law>, the witnesses should testify in court, but being present in court is not the only way."
Gong Gangmo's cousin Gong Yunfei was the fourth witness to testify in court. When the prosecutor asked, "Did you wire money to the Kangda Lawyers Office in Beijing?" he replied, "I did. I wired a total of 1.5 million yuan." He said that among the various occasions when he wired money, the second and third times "were to pay for the experts' meeting."
After Gong Yunfei finished his testimony and got ready to leave, Li Zhuang suddenly yelled into the microphone: "I am angry at the nonsense from the witness!" At the same time, he pounded on the desk and stood up.
When reminded by the chief judge and the defense lawyers "not to get excited," Li Zhuang sat down, raised his hand and said: "I was upset. I apologize. I express my apology. I am somewhere between a normal person and a mental patient. I admit my crimes, but I disagree with what the witness said."
The chief judge then announced, "Since a continuation of the court session may affect the legal rights of the appelant Li Zhuang, this court shall take a 10 minute recess."
When the court reconvened, Chongqing city Jiangbei District Detention Centre Number Three Prison's doctor Tong Yong was the fifth witness. He stated that when Gong Gangmo was detained as of August 2009 at the Number Three Prison, "he showed signs of high pressure. While I was on duty, he was afflicted with heart palpitations one time. But there were no instances when he showed signs of injury as a result of interrogations."
The prosecutor asked: "How large and what kind of scars have to be recorded during physical exams?"
Tang Yong replied, "Apart from the five senses and physical shape, the important points to be noted are whether there were any wounds, surgical scars, newly caused injuries or tatoos that can cause physical disability."
Concerning "not discovering any wounds on the hands of Gong Gangmo" and "the prison doctor did not ask to examine Gong's body," Tang Yong replied: "As a doctor, my job was to patrol and inspect every day. Gong Gangmo never mentioned that he had this injury and I did not discover it. If he did not bring up his injury, we would act like any ordinary hospital. We would not ask a patient to strip naked in order to conduct a full body check."
The prosecutor asked: "Medically speaking, if a person was tied or hung up for a long period of time, such as several hours or several days, with his entire body weight on his wrists, what kind of injuries would occur?"
Tang Yong said: "Let me objectively describe some basic medical concepts, as opposed to giving my subjective opinions. When we apply a tourniquet to stop bleeding, we must loosen it within one hour. If it goes on for more than one hour, the blood circulation within the body will be obstructed. Over a long period, this may result in the tissues dying in the extremities. Being hung up by the wrists is the same as applying a tourniquet."
"What if someone were suspended for several days and nights?"
"If that is the case, the damage on the skin tissue will be tremendous, even resulting in the paralysis of the arms. This person's limbs would no longer be healthy or whole."
The prosecutor asked: "Would the effect of several days and nights of being hung looks like a scratch wound?"
Tang Yong replied, "No."
Police officer Wu Peng who was responsible for the Gong Gangmo case at the Jiangbei Distict Detention Centre was the last to testify in court.
Wu Peng confirmed that he was responsible for supervising Gong Gangmo from late September to mid-October in 2009. "During the period when I supervised Gong Gangmo, he never said that he was injured. We did not notice anything either."
For each interrogation, Wu Peng was responsible for escorting Gong Gangmo between the interrogation room and the prison cell. His impression was that the interrogations lasted as "little as two to three hours and as long as four to five hours."
Gao Zicheng asked, "During the time when you supervised him, were there any records of nighttime interrogations?"
"We work in shifts. During the time that I was on duty, he was interrogated during daytime." Wu Peng replied.
The interrogation of the five witnesses other than Gong Gangma ended at 8pm after more than six hours.
Because some of the witnesses spoke the Chongqing dialect, the court adjourned briefly at at the request of the defense lawyer in order to bring in a putonghua interpreter.
During the court hearing in the evening, lawyer Gao Zicheng requested two new witnesses to testify in court. One of them is the lawyer Zhu Mingyong who represents Gong Gangmo's co-defendant Fan Qihang. "Fan Qihang claimed to have been tortured during interrogation in the same manner as Gong Gangmo. This will show that the torture of Gong Gangmo is an ironclad fact." The other person is the father-in-law of Li Zhuang's assistant Ma Xiaojun.
Both requests were denied by the chief judge. The reasons were: Zhu Mingyong had never asked Gong Gangmo himself, so he doesn't know about whether Gong Gangmo was tortured; when Li Zhuang met with Gong Gangmo, lawyer Zhu was not present either. Gong Gangmo himself and other witnesses have already testified that he was not tortured. Therefore, there was no need for Zhu Mingyong to testify in court.
As for the reason why the court denied the testimony of Ma Xiaojun's father-in-law, Ma Xiaojun has already said that his testimony expressed his own will. There was no need for his father-in-law to testify in court.
Lawyer Gao also offered: "I request the surveillance information of the three meetings between Li Zhuang and Gong Gangmo and the video recording of the third meeting." The chief judge replied, "The second trial court has already requested the information from the detention centre and received the answer: For the sake of security, the detention centre conducts real-time monitoring. However, the system does not have the capability to record. Therefore, there is no video recording for the third meeting."
At that instant, Li Zhuang suddenly asked to speak. He said: "I have four video clips that I secretly took during the three meetings. These videos will show either I or others are guilty of crimes. I will present these to the court at the appropriate time."
Li Zhuang mentioned repeatedly during the hearing that he was "deceived into coming to Chongqing" by Gong Ganghua. "At first, he did not tell me that Gong Gangmo was involved in organized crime. Only after I arrived in Chongqing did I realize how serious his crimes were. In order to make me stay to defend Gong Gangmo, Gong Ganghua even knelt down in front of me in a coffee shop."
But Gong Ganghua denied Li Zhuang's story in court.
Gao Zicheng also said during the trial today that he wants the injuries on Gong Gangmo re-examined.
The court hearing went on until 23:30. The chief judge then announced a recess. The court hearing will resume tomorrow.
(China Youth Daily) Li Zhuang reads confession letter in court; the authenticity of the testimony becomes focus. By Deng Lin and Zhuang Qinghong. February 4, 2010.
At 9:30am on February 3, the second trial of "Lawyer Gate" (in which lawyer Li Zhuang was charged with fabricating evidence and tampering with witnesses) continued in the Number One Middle People's Court in Chongqing city.
Yesterday, the six major witnesses in the Li Zhuang case made their appearances in court. Their testimonies lasted more than six hours.
This morning, the prosecutor and the defense continued to provide their opinions on the evidence presented yesterday. The disagreement between the evidence was the focus of the courtroom debate.
In court today, defense lawyer Gao Zicheng said that Gong Gangmo testified yesterday that the wound on his left hand "was a cut that occurred in Hainan last April or May" but there was no record of the wound in the physical examination record made at the Nanchuan Detention Centre as presented during the initial trial or the daily log of the doctor at the Jiangbei District Detention Centre. "Therefore these pieces of evidence as well as the testimony of the doctor Tang Yong are false."
Lawyer Chen Youxi said in court: "Gong Yunfei, Wu Jiayou, the detention centre doctor Tong Yong and the policeman Wu Peng all perjured themselves. They should be arrested for proving false evidence."
The prosecutor that the physical examination records showed that "the life signs are stable and well" as a summary of the overall wellbeing of Gong Gangmo. "All the daily logs and the physical examination upon entry to the detention centre cannot be completely negated on account of the absence of the record of a small scar on the wrist."
At the same time, the prosecutor pointed out that there was no way to jump to the conclusion that "Gong Gangmo had been tortured during interrogation." "On the contrary, the doctor and the policeman who testified in court were the people that Li Zhuang wanted Wu Jiayou to find 'at all costs.' Now that their testimonies are in front of your eyes, the possibility of torture during interrogation is eliminated."
The defense lawyer thought that at the first trial, the matter of "Li Zhuang instructing the Chongqing lawyer Wu Jiayou to bribe police officers" was based "solely" upon the testimony of Wu Jiayou. Since the evidence is weak, the fact cannot be accepted as true.
The prosecutor pointed out that this matter was not based upon an isolated piece of evidence. "The very clear fact is that when Li Zhuang told Wu Jiayou to find police officers 'at all costs' to provide false evidence, Gong Yunfei and Gong Gangmo were prsent. They were present in court to testify to that effect."
The defense lawyers pointed out that Wu Jiayou was inconsistent in his testimony which "showed that he lied." The prosecutor said that "it is normal to be inconsistent, but he testified to the same point. If a witness uses the identical words every time that he testifies, I would have to wonder if it was faked."
The prosecutor said that the testimony during the first trial had been debated by both sides already, and it corresponds to the testimony during the second trial. The relevant law states that a witness who was not present in court can have his testimony read out and accepted into the record. "When the defense said that the testimony was not credible, it is clearly inconsistent with the law."
Previously the defense lawyer wanted the video of the CCTV interview with Gong Gangmo be introduced, but that was rejected by the court. The defense lawyers repeated this request during the debate stage in court.
Lawyer Gao Zicheng asked: "Audio-visual information is one of the seven major types of evidence. Why can't it be accepted into evidence?" Lawyer Chen Youxi said: "It is a legal fact that the CCTV video was aired. I downloaded the video as evidence. So why won't you let me present it?"
The prosecutor said that the defense lawyer was not the person who prepared the video, but all he did was download it. Even if the Gong Gangmo video is authentic, it is unknown whether the aired CCTV video had been edited.
Lawyer Gao Zicheng condemned the various witnesses "for having rehearsed to put on a performance in court." The prosecutor said that this speculation is "a partial view which lacked any objective basis."
During the three meetings between Li Zhuang and Gong Gangma, Li's assistant lawyer Ma Xiaojun was present and made notes. The defense lawyer requested these notes be admitted as new evidence.
"Gong Gangma has testified that he has not seen the notes of Ma Xiaojun. 'He only saw Ma Xiaojun writing, but he did not know what he was writing.' He did not sign either." The prosecutor countered. "If this record was made by Ma Xiaojun, would they record their directive to fabricate evidence? The notes clearly stated 'torture during interrogation' and this precisely proves that Gong Gangma was already fabricating evidence as directed by Li Zhuang."
Lawyer Gao Zicheng said many times in court that "it is an objective fact that Gong Gangmo was tortured during interrogation." Lawyer Chen Youxi said: "The court cannot determine whether Gong Gangmo had been tortured. We are all talking into the air right now without any evidence. In the absence of evidence, Li Zhuang should be found not guilty on the presumption of innocence first."
The defense lawyer brought up a doubt that was present in public opinion: "Why did Gong Gangmo denounce his own lawyer Li Zhuang? Was it for the sake of legal justice? Or because he could gain credit and get his sentence reduced?"
But the prosecutor pointed out: "Whether the denouncer receives credit has no bearing on whether a case exists. As long as he objectively reports the truth, the case will be made."
The defense lawyer pointed out that when Li Zhuang took over the case of Gong Gangmo, the process had entered the trial phase. "The door on the evidence was already shut and the police will not procure new evidence." Therefore Li Zhuang could not have "instructed Gong Ganghua to dismiss the night club workers" and "find people to give false testimony."
But the prosecutor pointed out that while the case of Gong Gangmo had indeed entered the trial phase, the relevant laws state that "it is possible to request the public security department to collect additional evidence." The special case squad in charge of the Gong Gangmo case already had the relevant documentary proof.
Next, the defense lawyer questioned whether it was appropriate for the police to interrogate Gong Gangmo at 5am. The prosecutor pointed out that it was the special case squad for the case of Chongqing city former Legal Department chief Wen Qiang which interrogated Gong Gangmo "because he is an important witness in that case." "For a major case, it is essential and reasonable to hold an emergency or nighttime interrogation when the need arises. An occasional nighttime interrogation cannot directly or indirectly establish any connection to any torture during interrogation."
The defense lawyer introduced the twelve sets of interrogation notes provided by the Kangda Lawyers Office in Beijing. Lawyer Chen Youxi said: "Li Zhuang obtained fifteen sets of interrogation notes for the case of Gong Gangmo. These twelve sets were for nighttime interrogations. This showed that the four policeman from the Jiangbei Detention Centre were lying when they said that 'there was no nighttime interrogation'."
With respect to this, the prosecutor pointed out that apart from the two sets of notes for Gong Gangmo's interrogation, the other ten were for people who are "not related to" the present case. Therefore, the court was recommended not to accept it. Also, the testimony of the police officer was clearly limited to the period "while he was on duty." At the same time, the prosecutor said: "I called the special case squad this morning and confirmed that there were more than 1,000 sets of interrogation notes taken during this anti-crime campaign. The defense lawyer is providing twelve sets, which meant that only 1.2% of the interrogations occurred at night."
The defense lawyer questioned the legality of designating the Chongqing city Jiangbei Detention Centre as a temporary detention centre. Lawyer Chen Youxi said: "The department issues its own document. They can make up anything they want."
But the prosecutor said that the procuratorate had already shown the photos and the approval of the relevant government department for a temporary detention centre. "The facilities were overcrowded during the anti-crime campaign, and additional space was required" and therefore there should be no problem with the legality.
Li Zhuang raised his hand and asked to speak after the defense and the prosecution made their statements. He spoke slowly and steadily. "Today, all the media have reported that Li Zhuang admits his guilt at the second trial. The hope of some people that I would plead not guilty has been dashed. I admit to the charges that the prosecutor makes at me. But I feel that some of the witnesses were perfidious. I have some details to clarify which is not related to my guilty plea."
Li Zhuang explained the reason why he lost control of his emotions in court yesterday. "Most of the time, the witnesses were correct in what they said. But I was angry about why they did not dare to face a small number of details. For example, Gong Yunfei came to meet me at the airport, we ate together, he got the files from my assistant Ma Xiaojun, he knocked on my door in the middle of the night to discuss ... but why did he say that he cannot remember? That was why I exploded yesterday."
Li Zhuang said: "Once again, I admit that I am guilty. I admit that I fabricated the torture of Gong Gangmo during interrogation. But I only told Gong Yunfei and Gong Ganghua that I 'taught' Gong Gangmo. I did not use the word 'fabricate' in front of them. I admit this to the prosecutor and the court."
During his speech that lasted for more than ten minutes, Li Zhuang repeated the phrase "Once again I admit my guilt" five times.
When it came for the defendant to make his statement, Li Zhuang only said: "I only say: I plead guilty."
Lawyer Gao Zicheng said during the ensuing court debate: "If Li Zhuang is pleading guilty in return for a suspended sentence, then I think that it is a tragedy for people in the legal profession. I am very shocked by Li Zhuang's guilty plea. Since Li Zhuang said yesterday 'I am between a normal person and a mental patient,' I may consider to have him undergo a psychiatric examination if necessary."
Li Zhuang interrupted him immediately while waving his hand: "There is no need. There is no need. I am quite normal."
During the one hour presentation during the debate, Lawyer Gao Zicheng said: "I don't deny that Li Zhuang lacks the political acumen that excellent lawyers should have, and he also lacks the mind and will to oppose the trial or the supervisory department. But these flaws do not form a crime. No matter whether Li Zhuang is pleading guilty today in exchange for freedom, or to enable Gong Gangma to gain credit, or for some other unknown reasons, the court cannot find Li Zhuang guilty."
Gao Zicheng said: "Ordinary folks have not read the charges or the defense statements. They were influenced by the powerful reporting on the outside and they have formed certain opinions about the first trial. The skeptics come mainly from lawyers, legalists, business people and intellectuals in journalism. Although they are small in numbers compared to the ordinary folks, their social connections and grades are higher than ordinary folks. If Li Zhuang is found guilty, those people who inwardly believe that he is not guilty but for various reasons have to say that he is guilty in public will be tormented or frustrated even longer than the 30 months that was Li Zhuang's jail sentence."
Lawyer Chen Youxi said later: "It was an astonishing move by Li Zhuang to plead guilty yesterday. We were very surprised. But defense lawyers make their defenses independently, so we decided to defend him on a non-guilty basis. But if the court still wants to find him guilty, Li Zhuang's attitude should be taken into consideration for a reduced sentence."
Gao Zicheng also said: "The prosecutor is unable to produce any evidence fabricated by Li Zhuang. Therefore, what Li Zhuang did was not a crime."
The prosecutor explained towards that end: "Article 306 in the Criminal Laws is not about criminals who achieved results. It also covers criminals who commit deeds. As long as Li Zhuang acted as a defense lawyer to fabricate evidence and tamper with witnesses, he is guilty even if the false evidence did not have any effect."
During the final stage of the court debate, the prosecutor said: "I have many emotions today. It is the duty of the legal professional to respect the law, obey the law and apply the law within reasonable bounds, and the Law will protect him. If he ignores the law and violate the law, the Law will punish him."
At 15:00, Li Zhuang took out his "confession" and delivered his final statement.
In his statement, Li Zhuang mentioned: "The first and second trials have given me a lot of thoughts. I recognized the severity of my criminal acts. I have violated the sanctity of my lawyer's profession. I have lost the basic professional ethics of a professional lawyer. I was lost on issues of right versus wrong."
He said in the end: "My thinking changed slowly. Although I will pay a heavy price for this, it has given me abundant experience from which to learn. When I return to society, I will be someone useful to society."
With respect to his confession, Li Zhuang said: "Some public opinion think that I am pleading guilty today because of the appearance of the witnesses in court. I want to explain that my confession was submitted to the court on January 24. Before today's court session, I also promised that I will not recant in the future."
At 15:15, the chief judge announced a recess. The verdict will be rendered on a date to be scheduled.
Li Zhuang's Confession (02/08/2010) (CRIENGLISH.com)
Beijing-based lawyer Li Zhuang has admitted to the charge of giving false evidence at the second trial of his case at a court in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on Tuesday.
Ten minutes into the trial, Li Zhuang told the judge at the Chongqing No.1 Intermediate People's Court that he will withdraw his appeal to the verdict issued in the first trial, which he said was based on clear facts and substantial evidence.
In response to his defending lawyer Chen Youxi's inquiry, Li said he understood the consequences of the withdrawal and admitted to the charge of giving false evidence. He was also charged with obstructing a witness.
In addition, Li Zhuang also read from a written final statement which consists of six points (Beijing Youth Daily):
This statement has become the subject of a very "close" reading. There is no need for me to translate these six points, because that is not where the controversy lies. Instead, the key are the first and last words of these six statements.
First, if you string out the first words: 被比认罪缓刑, you get "forced to plead guilty in return for a suspended sentence." Then, if you string out the last words: 础去坚决界诉, you get "once outside, I will resolutely expose this."
Is this over-reading? But what is the likelihood of pure coincidence?
But before you get to this, is this even what he really said in court? After all, this is only a transcript of what he said and did not come directly from him. Did someone make this one in order to make a point even if it will be highly prejudicial to Li Zhuang himself?
(Caixin) Lawyer's Retraction Written into Plea Bargain By He Xin. February 10, 2010.
The ensuing drama revolving around the Li Zhuang case, a Beijing lawyer who was found guilty for pressuring a client to give false testimony, took a further twist as he revised his plea for the second time upon hearing his appeal verdict on February 9.
The guilty verdict of Li was upheld by the appeals court in Chongqing, although his sentence was reduced from 30 months to 18 months. However, upon hearing his appeal verdict on February 9, Li immediately accused judiciary officials of breaking their promise. A week earlier, Li shocked court observers in a sudden capitulation of his first sentence appeal. Li said that his early admission of guilt was on the one hand enticed by "relevant departments (¦³关¤è±)," and on the other hand, a defense strategy.
Li instructed court observers to study his confession. The six-point admission of guilt, announced by Li during his appeal, contains an acrostic that narrates his retraction. The first and last characters of each sentence form a statement that says, "forced into the guilty plea and a reprieve, and will certainly appeal once I'm out (of custody)."
Gao Zicheng, Li's defense lawyer, told the media that "relevant departments" asked Li to "think about the big picture" and change attorneys. After the request was rejected by Li, officials required Li to persuade his defense lawyers to withdraw his appeal. Gao said officials who made promises to Li were high-ranking.
Led by the police from the court room, Li shouted, "I hope China's 160,000 lawyers will fight against activities in violation of the Criminal Law. Fight to the end! I will appeal to the end!" The line was similar to his reaction when he was first sentenced to 30 months in early January, but public sentiments have shifted drastically after his recent false plea of guilt.
(Chen Guang's blog) 2010.01.09
Yesterday morning at 9:30am, a relaxed looking Li Zhuang was escorted into the courtroom by court police. Based upon his expression, he seemed to be full of confidence about the verdict today.
As the verdict was read out, Li Zhuang was closely attentive. When he heard that he would be sentenced to 18 months, he jumped up and grabbed the microphone to yell out: "I pretended to plead guilty during the second trial. The relevant departments in Chongqing came to the detention centre and promised me that I would get a suspended sentence if I pleaded guilty. But you sentenced to serve actual jail time. You broke your promise."
According to defense lawyer Gao Zicheng, the situation went out of control for a moment. Several court police officers restrained Li Zhuang.
Li Zhuang yelled out that the prosecutor(s) came to see him in the detention centre and did the following.
Firstly, the procuratorate wantedLi Zhuang to plead guilty during the second trial and show a good attitude without causing trouble for the prosecutors.
Secondly, the procuratorate wanted Li Zhuang not to use Gao Zicheng and Chen Youxi as his defense lawyers in order to make the trial go more smoothly.
Thirdly, if Li Zhuang does not change his defense lawyers, then the procuratorate should ask the defense lawyer to change the not-guilty plea to a leniency plea.
Li Zhuang yelled out in court: "How many martyrs have written confessions, but it did not affect their martyrdom!? ... I hope that the 160,000 lawyers in China will continue to proclaim my innocence on the outside ..."
After the verdict, our reporter interviewed his defense lawyer immediately. On December 31, 2009 and January 15, 2010, the defense lawyer went to see Li Zhuang at the Chongqing detention centre.
"During the two meetings, Li Zhuang was high-spirited. He wanted us to fight all the way at all costs. He said that he wouldn't plead guilty even if it meant serving jail time. But when the court trial began, Li Zhuang suddenly pleaded guilty. This surprised and shocked the defense lawyers. After the second trial recessed, I went to see Li Zhuang at the detention centre. I asked him why he pleaded guilty. Li Zhuang told me that several days before the trial, two persons from the Chongqing government had gone down to see him separately at the detention centre. However, Li Zhuang was tight-lipped about the substance of those conversations. He said that these were secrets that cannot be disclosed."
The defense lawyer believed that the two conversations affected Li Zhuang greatly and gave him tremendous pressure so that he pleaded guilty at the second trial.
(The Age) Born to reign John Garnaut. February 13, 2010.
THE arrest and kangaroo-court conviction of another successful lawyer might hardly be worth mentioning in a nation where
deregistering, imprisoning or beating lawyers for doing their jobs is becoming commonplace. But the case of Li Zhuang has generated a 10-week Chinese media and internet firestorm, and not just because of the way it was conducted.
It is the first time a lawyer has been convicted of coaching his client to lie on the basis of testimony from an accused mobster, according to another respected lawyer (who has himself been beaten and deregistered for representing the wrong kind of clients).
And the 4000-word character assassination planted in the China Youth Daily straight after Li's arrest was also unusual.
But it is the hazy background to this case that makes it so riveting for onlookers and disruptive for China's political status quo.
The man who must have authorised Li's arrest is Bo Xilai, the only politburo member who can comfortably wear epithets such as "colourful", "mercurial" or "maverick". The Communist Party boss of Chongqing has captivated the nation with a crazy-brave war against the city's organised crime.
Bo got to where he is partly because he is the son of Bo Yibo, one of China's "Eight Immortals" - the tag for an exalted club of revolutionaries who lived long enough to stamp their marks on China's reform-era history.
China Youth Daily hinted at the equally impressive power behind the lawyer whom Bo Xilai arrested: "As Li Zhuang arrived at Chongqing, he began to play the peacock, saying many times, 'Do you know my background? Do you know who my boss is?"
What the censors won't let local media spell out is that Li's law firm is headed by Fu Yang, who is the son of Peng Zhen, who was also one of the Eight Immortals and more powerful than Bo Yibo.
Li's lawyer from the same Kangda law firm, Gao Zicheng, said he could not talk about the background politics: "I can't go there ¡K''
But the fathers Bo Yibo and Peng were once factional allies. Their families lived close together and were closely entwined, often entertaining guests at a Shanxi restaurant they both helped to open, according to a Beijing political aficionado.
"Both Peng Zhen and Bo Yibo were loyalists of [Chairman Mao's one-time chosen successor] Liu Shaoqi, yet the two were rivals," says Huang Jing, a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore. "This hate-love relationship is certainly inherited by their children."
So it turns out that Bo Xilai has just spectacularly arrested, convicted and rejected the appeal of a lawyer who works for Bo's equally powerful childhood playmate, Fu Yang.
The Communist Party has enjoyed enormous success in turning China into a powerful nation and lifting its citizens out of poverty. But the party is also a club that allocates political, financial and social privilege to its members.
It has its own internal system of hierarchy and quasi-royalty, where revolutionary leaders bequeath their status to their children and children's children.
Those descendants are called China's "princelings". Mostly, the princelings get on with the job of expanding the national cake and carving it up. It was Bo Xilai's father, Bo Yibo, who is said to have helped institutionalise the princeling nexus of power and wealth in the 1990s by supporting a proposal that each powerful family have only one princeling in politics, leaving other siblings to cash in their political inheritances for financial ones.
But the case of lawyer Li Zhuang suggests the country may not be big enough for all of them.
Political analysts say Bo Xilai is pursuing an audacious but calculated political strategy. Most say he is appealing directly to the people by implicitly attacking his peers, in the hope of forcing his own promotion into the nine-member politburo standing committee at the next leadership reshuffle in 2012.
"Bo Xilai is indeed challenging the privilege of some princelings to boost his own popularity," says Bo Zhiyue, an expert on China's princelings at the National University of Singapore.
It is not impossible for an outsider to secure the right patrons and make it to the top, as did President Hu Jintao (who was anointed by former party leaders Hu Yaobang and Deng Xiaoping).
Generally, however, modern China belongs to the children of the revolution. All three officers appointed last year to the rank of full general in the People's Liberation Army were children of senior party leaders. Xi Jinping, who many expect to be the next president, is the son of a revolutionary hero. Eight or nine of the 25-member politburo are princelings (defined as having a parent or parent-in-law who held the rank of vice-minister or above), according to Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese elite politics at the Brookings Institution. In the previous politburo there were only three.
The strategic heights of China's economy are also in princeling hands.
The family of former president Jiang Zemin, whose adoptive father was a revolutionary martyr, pulls strings in the telecommunications, railways and postal systems. The family of former premier Li Peng, who was adopted by former premier Zhou Enlai, has outsized influence over electricity production, transmission and hydro-electric dam building. His daughter Li Xiaolin, whose name appeared in the Australian media this week thanks to her run-in with billionaire Clive Palmer over a ''$US60 billion'' ($A67.9 billion) contract, is at the helm of a major power generating company. Her brother headed another large electricity company before being transferred to help run the coal-powered province of Shanxi. Family friend Liu Zhenya controls the electricity grid.
Distinctions between state and personal enterprise are not always clear in China.
Some of the most eminent princeling families discreetly control large companies that are listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, sometimes in concert with Hong Kong's mega-billionaire families, and often through loyal personal secretaries or close relatives who have changed their names.
Further in the background, Chinese political analysts say the descendants of Marshal Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yun, Wang Zhen, Peng Zhen and Bo Yibo are China's real political and financial king makers.
Which brings us back to Bo Yibo and Peng's Zhen's children, Bo Xilai and Fu Yang.
Overwhelmingly, China's intellectuals and the legal professionals castigated Bo Xilai for his Chongqing crackdown, although not by name, for cloaking himself as a modern day Maoist and making a mockery of the rule of law.
The intellectual tide seemed to turn last week when accused lawyer Li Zhuang shocked his own legal advisers with this open-court confession at his appeal: "I fabricated evidence to deceive the police, the procuratorate [prosecution], and the court to exculpate [gang leader Gong Gangmo]."
While that confession was itself clouded in controversy, liberal opinion leaders began to reframe the debate.
Li Zhuang and his law firm, Kangda, are respected for being very good at what they do. But they are also welded into the elite of a Communist Party judicial system that runs on kickbacks and connections.
It is no stretch to say the fathers of Kangda's three founding principals ran China's entire political-security and judicial systems in the 1980s.
The law firm was itself spun out of the legal department of an immensely profitable and unaccountable corporate-charity empire called Kanghua, which was run by Deng Pufang, son of Deng Xiaoping. Controversy about this type of cronyism was one ingredient in the build-up of public unease leading up to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989.
All that hazy background helps explain why Li Zhuang was once again the big chat topic on leading blogging portals this week, after a Chongqing court rejected his appeal but reduced his jail sentence.
"Bo is the great savior of Chinese ordinary people," said a netizen at the People's Daily website. "Strike hard against gangsters and black lawyers ¡K Drag all their [mafia] uncles out!"
And Bo Xilai hasn't just locked up one well-connected lawyer who may or may not have been doing his job. In China it is impossible for the underworld to thrive without being joined at the hip to the Communist Party, as the open trials of some of Bo's nearly 800 gangland prosecutions have shown.
Wen Qiang, Chongqing's former deputy police chief and then justice bureau chief, was in court trying to explain more than 16 million yuan ($A2.6 million) in suspected kickbacks and sheltering mobsters such as his sister-in-law, "the godmother of Chongqing". It emerged in court this week that the bulk of Wen's wealth was acquired from payments received in return for handing out promotions.
"The trial of the underworld has become a trial of corrupt officials,'' wrote Liang Jing, a pseudonymous political columnist on overseas Chinese language websites.
Yang Hengjun, one of China's most influential political commentators, had previously criticised Bo for his Maoist rhetoric and politicisation of the legal process.
Last week he took a different course, skating close to the limits of permissible speech, after his email inbox had filled to overflowing with unhappy readers.
Yang wrote that the whole debate about defending the ''rule of law" in Chongqing was premised on the assumption that there was actually something already resembling "rule of law" anywhere in China, which there patently is not.
"If you are serious about spreading the 'rule of law' in China I have a suggestion," he wrote. "All legal elites and opinion leaders can join hundreds of thousands of netizens in demanding that Chongqing's fight against gangsters be introduced across the whole nation so that it can terminate unlawful 'rule of law' by corrupt officials."
In the end, writes Yang, debates about rule of law will remain academic in China for as long as it is run by a one-party state:
''Only a greater political system or democracy can provide an answer.''
Privately, political observers in China say that whatever you think of Bo Xilai or his personal motivations, he has thrown a bomb inside Party Central. His public dissection of Chongqing's power and protection rackets invites Chinese people to worry and talk more openly about whether their country is evolving towards some kind of Soprano state. Some liberal thinkers hope Bo is a catalyst for those in the system who are not beholden to "princelings" - perhaps Vice-Premier Li Keqiang? - to rise and challenge the party's privileges.
But the party's princeling bonds will be hard to break. To the extent that they stick together, the princelings will loosen their grip on power only when necessary to preserve it.
"Reporters have every reason to explore the in-fighting among the princelings,'' writes Cheng Li, at the Brookings Institution.
''But I believe that princelings' incentive for co-operation and the need to share wealth and power are far more important than their internal tensions and conflicts.''