Wang Lijun, the Chinese police chief who touched off a far-reaching political
scandal in February when he sought refuge at a U.S. consulate, stood trial
Tuesday on charges of bribe-taking and “bending the law for selfish ends.”
The trial at
the Intermediate People's Court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province,
followed a day of closed proceedings on Monday during which Wang was tried on
charges of abuse of power and defection, state-run media announced.
Monday’s trial was closed, authorities said, because those charges involved
were immediately forthcoming on any of the four charges, and no date was given
for when any sentence might be announced.
Tuesday’s proceedings, aired on state-run TV with a voice-over, showed a
bespectacled, frowning Wang in the center of a wood-paneled courtroom wearing a
white shirt and speaking multiple times before a panel of three judges. Wang’s
attorney, Wang Yuncai, sat to her client’s right, while about 40 other people,
including the defendant’s wife and brother, watched from the rear of the
went to the consulate in Chengdu, he accused the wife of Politburo member and
Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai of poisoning a British business associate.
The allegations sounded outrageous, but Bo was soon ousted from his position as
party secretary of Chongqing. His wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted last month of
exactly what sentence Wang might incur if he is convicted. A summary of the
proceedings released by the state-run New China news agency noted that Wang had
cooperated with authorities on all of the charges except for the bribe-taking,
providing information against unspecified “others,” and that this might result
agency said Wang had “produced important clues for exposing serious offences
committed by others and played a key part in the investigation of these cases”
and noted that prosecutors said in their indictment that “this can be
considered as performing major meritorious services.”
bribery charge, prosecutors said Wang had improperly accepted 3.05 million
renminbi, or about $484,127. Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer based in Beijing who
previously represented the activist-artist Ai Weiwei, noted that while a
conviction on a charge of accepting bribes worth over 100,000 renminbi could
technically bring the death penalty, recent graft allegations involving Chinese
officials have involved much larger sums; in some cases topping 100 million
to such cases, Liu said, Wang’s offense looks relatively minor and seems
unlikely to bring a death sentence if he is convicted.
lawyer told a reporter on the scene in Chengdu that she expected a verdict in
about two weeks. "I am hoping for leniency,” she told Britain’s
Daily Telegraph. “The trial was pretty standard. I presented evidence, of
course. I did my best."
were closely monitoring the proceedings against Wang for any clues about what
next steps authorities might take against Bo, who hasn’t been seen in public
since spring. However, details related to two of the charges that might
have yielded more information about Bo’s fate -- defection and abuse of power --
were kept under wraps.
he’s convicted of all four charges, it still might not mean anything for Bo
legally,” said Mo Shaoping, a lawyer who has defended
dissidents and labor activists in sensitive cases. “Because
Bo’s name has not been mentioned in any of the details of the crimes Wang is
abuse of power charge, we have to ask, how did he abuse his power? Did he
receive orders to abuse his power? Who ordered him to?” said Mo. “In the
defection charge, it’s a similar situation. We have to find out about the
motivation and cause of his defection. Who was pushing him to defect?”
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Yang and Nicole Liu in the Beijing bureau contributed to this report.
Photo: The former police chief Wang Lijun speaking to the court during his trial in Chengdu. Credit: CCTV / AFP / Getty Images