Li Zhuang, 50, a criminal lawyer from Beijing, went on trial Tuesday in the city of Chongqing, accused of inciting a client to falsify evidence. He had been convicted and jailed on similar charges stemming from his defense in 2009 of a convicted gangster arrested in a highly publicized law-and-order campaign.
On Friday, however, the court dropped the new charges, saying it lacked evidence. The trial had become a focal point for legal activists, who said Mr. Li had been persecuted for defending unpopular clients. The campaign against organized crime had been orchestrated by Bo Xilai, a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo and party secretary in Chongqing. Analysts say that he is a strong candidate to join the powerful nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo and that he was using the campaign to burnish his credentials.
And from a Caixin editorial on Li Zhuang’s case:
Regardless of Li’s guilt or innocence, few doubted that the original prosecution process lacked integrity. Seven witnesses in police custody were not allowed to appear at his first trial, and defense lawyers were denied access to witnesses whose statements contradicted Li’s. Defense requests for the judge to be recused or the case transferred to another court were rejected.
Neither were Li’s lawyers allowed to exercise their legal right to read case documents, meet their client or investigate the case.
One of the lawyers, Chen Youxi, recently publicized case documents that suggest Chongqing judicial authorities tried to make a number of unfair deals behind close doors with Li. They told Chen to “think and talk politically, behave for the good of the overall situation, and do not haggle over details.”
These revelations shocked the public and prompted strong objections from legal experts. But the Chongqing judiciary has refused to give these and other expert opinions serious consideration.