Li Zhuang on Thursday morning held a two and a half hour meeting about his case before a judge at Chongqing’s Intermediate Court — the first time Li was able to meet with Chongqing court officials since he was released, despite multiple attempts. After the meeting, the judge said he would decide later whether to accept Li’s appeal of his conviction, according to Li and to reports in the Xinhua news agency.
Gong Ganghua, the gangster’s brother, said his sibling told him that he was tortured, beaten and forced to make the statements implicating the lawyer. In an interview, Gong Ganghua said that other family members were forced under police threat to help frame the lawyer and that police held mock trial sessions to coach them in how to respond to specific questions. He said police also threatened to execute Gong Gangmo if the family did not play along.
“The whole world knows Li Zhuang was framed,” Gong Ganghua said. “If I refused to cooperate with them, they would have executed my younger brother.”
Li said that after more than a year of futility, he hoped to get his conviction overturned and his license to practice law restored. “My understanding is the court system is waiting for orders from the upper level,” he said. “Everything was on hold for a little while” because of the party congress, he added.
‘There’s no progress’
In another well-publicized case, Ren Jianyu, a college student and blogger, was sent to a “reeducation through labor” camp for two years in August 2011 for posting on his “Tencent” microblog comments critical of Bo’s crackdown on crime and his campaign to encourage Chongqing residents to sing Mao Zedong-era revolutionary, or “red,” songs.
Ren had posted and reposted scores of comments, including a statement that, under Bo, “Chongqing is now taking the lead on the road to the Cultural Revolution!” He also posted a picture of a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “I would rather die without freedom.”
Ren, 25, was released by Chongqing’s new authorities on Nov. 19, after 15 months in detention. He insists that he didn’t break any laws; he is fighting to get his good name back and to force Chongqing officials to admit that he was wrongly detained.
Ren said he had mostly reposted other people’s comments. “When I forwarded those, I thought every one of us has the right to speak and express our own views on current affairs. I just didn’t expect that freedom in Chongqing was so low,” he said.
During his detention, Ren said, he was forced to do exercises, perform manual labor and — until Bo was ousted in March — sing revolutionary songs day and night.
Ren’s first attempt to have his case overturned was rejected by the lower court in Chongqing. But his attorney, Pu Zhiqiang, said he plans to appeal. “Now the whole city here is still in the process of healing,” Pu said.
Other victims of Bo’s perceived injustices are simply waiting for the new leadership to settle in before they seek redress.
“Our case now is at the hand of the Chongqing People’s Court, and there’s no conclusion so far,” said the wife of a Chongqing policeman who was jailed as part of the crackdown on corruption.
“Of course, we expect the new party secretary will do something. We expected party secretary Zhang Dejiang would have done something, too,” she said. “But there’s no progress. Now we’re just very confused.”
Wang Juan in Shanghai contributed to this report.