Politically Risky Trial of Wang Lijun Ends in China
The second and final day of the highly sensitive trial of Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing and right-hand man of disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai, was kept under wraps.
The trial was held in the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu, the capital of western China’s Sichuan Province.
Chengdu is the site of the U.S. Consulate to which Wang fled on Feb. 6, a desperate act that brought to public view scandals that are still shaking the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
His flight to the U.S. Consulate earned Wang the charge of defection. He also stood trial for three other charges: abusing the law and practicing favoritism, abuse of power, and bribery.
According to the regime mouthpiece Xinhua, the court session on Sept. 17 was a “secret hearing according to the law,” because it was related to “state secrets.”
The Sept. 18 hearing was supposedly an “open trial,” with relatives of Wang Lijun, media members, National People’s Conference deputies and members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference national committee, and others attending the trial, according to Xinhua.
But in reality, the trial was not open to the press. The Chinese media were given a gag order, while members from foreign media were not given permission to attend the trial, according to Radio France Internationale (RFI).
The secrecy was similar to that imposed on the trial of Gu Kailai, held on Aug. 9. The wife of Bo Xilai was tried for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in part because of evidence of her guilt provided by Wang Lijun.
Wang’s trial raises politically explosive issues for the Chinese regime; thus the secrecy.
Zhang Sizhi, a prominent Chinese lawyer, told Deutsche Welle (DW) potential connections to Bo Xilai can be seen from the Xinhua wire report about the Sept. 17 hearing. “It is probably related with Bo Xilai if it is a ‘state secret,'” Zhang said.
China analysts say that the top leadership remains deeply divided over how to handle Bo Xilai.
Wang is believed to have told Party officials about Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai’s involvement in organ harvesting and the selling of corpses, Bo Xilai’s corruption, and a plot by Bo Xilai and domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang to push presumptive next head of the CCP Xi Jinping out of power.
Epoch Times commentator Zhang Tianliang wrote in an email that Wang Lijun would only have fled to Chengdu out of fear for his life, and only Bo Xilai could have threatened him.
According to Zhang Tianliang, the trial of Wang needs to be tightly controlled in order to keep information about Bo Xilai’s activities from the Chinese people.
In addition, the trial of Wang Lijun in calling attention to Bo also calls attention to the struggle surrounding him inside the Politburo—with some top leaders defending Bo and others seeking to bring him down. The Party wants to keep such splits in the leadership out of public view, Zhang Tianliang said.
The most sensitive issue involving Wang Lijun is his, Bo Xilai, and Gu Kailai’s involvement in the atrocity of forced, live organ harvesting.
Sound of Hope Radio Network’s commentator Zhang Sutian said, “Live organ harvesting is a crime against humanity. It happened under the CCP’s rule, so it is directly related to the CCP.”
According to Zhang Sutian, once the Chinese people learn of the atrocity of organ harvesting, the Party will lose all legitimacy and collapse.
Observers of Gu Kailai’s trial noted that the court seemed to accept grounds for leniency in the sentencing hearing. Gu was given a suspended death sentence, which can be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, and then can be reduced for good behavior at the discretion of the court.
Xinhua’s reporting suggests that some leniency may be on the cards for Wang Lijun.
Prosecutors said that given that Wang had made important contributions to cracking the case, the penalty for the crime of bending the law for personal gains could be lighter, according to Xinhua.
In addition, Xinhua reported that Wang “had produced clues for exposing serious offenses committed by others and played a key part in the investigation of these cases. This can be considered as performing major meritorious services, prosecutors said in the indictment paper.”
Xinhua’s reporting did not expose what contributions Wang made, what case he helped crack, and what offenses he helped expose, although Gu Kailai’s murder of Neil Heywood would seem to be among the cases involved.
Wang Lijun’s defense lawyer is said to have cited mitigating factors for Wang’s case.
It was officially reported that Wang Lijun did not “voice any objection” to the criminal facts and the four charges against him.
In the video of the court session released by the state-run media, Wang Lijun appears to be peaceful.
Before the court adjourned, it said Wang would be sentenced on a yet to be determined date.
After the trial concluded, a Xinhua press release was read out loud to the foreign media gathered outside the courtroom, according to RFI.
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