Tortured Chinese Gang Boss Recants Testimony Against Lawyer

November 26, 2012 3:13 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 11:46 am
Li Zhuang in a Chongqing courtroom, where he was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being accused of suborning perjury. That accusation was actually extracted from a gang boss under torture, according to revelations that are just being examined by Chinese authorities. (NTD Television)

With the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress now over and ex-high flying Politburo member Bo Xilai in jail awaiting trial, it’s time to settle old scores. 

A former lawyer who was jailed in 2009 as part of a supposed crackdown on “mafia” in the southwestern city of Chongqing, orchestrated by Bo Xilai, was recently summoned by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to discuss his case. 

Li Zhuang, 51, was convicted of fabricating evidence and suborning perjury after his former client, gang boss Gong Gangmo, bore witness against him in court, saying that Li told him to lie.

Li was actually attempting to defend Gong and ensure that due process was followed, after the latter became a target in Bo Xilai’s “smash the black” anti-crime campaign, which often used arbitrary and heavy-handed tactics against its victims. Gong is himself a criminal figure, but the open manipulation of judicial procedures and the use of charged political labels and propaganda in the campaign created what many in China felt was a Cultural Revolution-like atmosphere. 

After Gong Gangmo testified against Li, Li Zhuang was jailed.

Now with the thorough deposal of Bo Xilai and a new Party leadership in Beijing, the story is being retold. 

Prosecutors from the country’s highest procuratorate met with Li Zhuang, his lawyer Wang Shihua, and two relatives of Gong Gangmo — Gong Ganghua and Gong Yunfei — to discuss the case on Nov. 23.

They were summoned ostensibly in response to a recent updated petition by Li Zhuang (he had been calling for a review of his case since he got out of jail — to no avail until recently), which contained new details about how the Chongqing “project team,” ultimately overseen by Bo Xilai, “fabricated the case out of thin air” down to the smallest details.

In an interview with Sound of Hope Radio, Li Zhuang said that the petition explained: “How they testified back then. How they were intimidated. How they were threatened and beaten by the police. They were forced to wrongly accuse Li Zhuang,” he said, referring to himself in the third person.

“They were instructed to fabricate stories. They did this against their hearts. They are all ashamed now, repeatedly apologizing. This all happened in early spring this year. The whole thing did not come out to light until now. When we were talking, there were about 10 lawyers present,” Li said.

Li is now calling for a retrial given the vast amount of new evidence that has surfaced, but is wary about Chongqing prosecutors taking the case, because many of the people involved in fabricating evidence and concocting a case against him are still in office, he said. 

The beginning of the overturning of Li Zhuang’s case coincides with the downfall of a small-time official in Chongqing who was once shielded by Bo Xilai. Analysts see the cases as the possible start of a pattern where the allies of Bo, now disgraced and awaiting punishment, are hauled over the coals, while a new regime in Chongqing and the central government picks over the injustices caused under his watch. 

Li Zhuang recently told Chinese media that 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) in assets were confiscated by Bo and his associates in the anti-mafia crackdown in Chongqing, but that less than a tenth of it ended up in the treasury. 

Speaking to the New York-based NTD Television, Li said that “According to the law, every cent confiscated by
the public security bureau has to be transferred… with the corresponding case.” But, he continued, “only about 900 million has gone to the Treasury. Where has all the rest gone? This is a mystery which has to be solved.”

With research by Ariel Tian.

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