As Chongqing cleans up after its deposed former Party chief Bo Xilai, a series of articles at Caixin describes the notorious case of Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang. Li went to Chongqing to defend alleged mobster Gong Gangmo during Bo’s signature ‘Strike Black’ anti-mafia crackdown, but local authorities decided to make an example of him to keep other outside lawyers at bay. Gong and his brother, Gong Ganghua, were coerced into accusing Li of encouraging them to commit perjury, and the lawyer was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Following Bo’s fall and Li’s early release, the Gong brothers have recanted their accusations in order to help Li clear his name, while Li, in turn, is representing his former client in his appeal. From Luo Jieqin and He Xin at Caixin:
Li’s day in court may come soon. He told Caixin that on November 23 he met Supreme People’s Procuratorate representatives and was told, “We will handle this incident very seriously.” Six days later, he met officials from the Chongqing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court, who echoed the procuratorate’s assurance.
A new trial would add another twist to the saga of Bo, who has been stripped of his post and party membership, and in early December was awaiting trial for alleged abuse of power and bribery. His wife Bogu Kailai was convicted in August of murder and sentenced to life with a two-year reprieve. And Bo’s former police chief who directed the anti-mafia campaign, Wang Lijun, has been sentenced in September to 15 years for abuse of power, corruption and attempting to defect to the United States.
“My appeal is a weather vane” for the future direction of the Bo drama and Chongqing’s justice system, Li told Caixin. “It sends out a sensitive signal about rectifying mistakes.
“All those wronged during Chongqing’s ‘organized crime’ crackdown are watching and waiting.”
The torture employed to secure Gong Gangmo’s cooperation was, according to Luo, far from exceptional. After Gong’s arrest, his brother fled, and the latter’s son was taken for interrogation to a secluded site outside the city where hundreds of suspects are thought to have been tortured in the name of law and order.
Blinded by a black hood, the son of businessman Gong Ganghua couldn’t see where he was going after being taken into custody by officers with Chongqing’s organized crime task force.
When the hood was lifted, Gong Peng found himself on a cool, forested mountain popular among Chongqing residents as a summer getaway called Tieshanping.
But this was no resort. Police held Gong Peng at an old military training base on Tieshanping, east of the city, where he was interrogated and tortured for five days.
[…] Police threatened to send Gong Peng, whose wife had given birth just days earlier, to a labor camp so that “your son won’t know you when he grows up. He’ll call you uncle.”
Police employed similar methods to turn one of Gong Gangmo’s alleged associates against his own lawyer, Zhu Mingyong. Fan Qihang, however, refused, despite prolonged torture and the detention and investigation of family members.
The torture was so intense that a participating police officer pleaded for a re-assignment and the suspect, a local mafia member Fan Qihang, mutilated his own tongue before trying to kill himself by running head-first into a wall.
Yet Fan never capitulated to police demands that he testify falsely in court and help prosecutors put his lawyer, Zhu Mingyong, behind bars.
[…] Fan said he was handcuffed while hung by his feet and was not allowed to sleep for more than 10 days. Steel from the cuffs burrowed into his flesh, he said, and he tried to commit suicide twice. An officer beat Fan with a plastic water bottle whenever he starting losing consciousness. Sleep deprivation continued for months.
[…] Even on the eve of his execution, spending a few final hours with his sisters, Chongqing police pressured Fan to give them incriminating evidence against Zhu.