The widow of Mao Tse-tung, who virtually ran China during the chaotic years of the Cultural Revolution, and nine other radicals will be displayed in an iron cage before hundreds of courtroom spectators at their forthcoming trial, according to official news accounts today.
Preparations for the trial, the timing and location of which has not been announced, have taken on an almost carnival atmosphere. The People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, announced today that people from all over the country have been invited by the government to attend the trial and have begun to gather in Peking.
Portions of the courtroom proceedings will be transmitted worldwide by television satellite, the newspaper said, underlining Peking strategy to dramatize the current leaders' distate for Cultural Revolution policies. For home consumption, Chinese have been told that they can order color photographs of the disgraced radicals at the trial, and the Peking evening news announced plans to serialize a novel based on the alleged plot by the late former defense minister Lin Biao to assassinate Mao.
The defense table will be placed in front of the judge's bench, the People's Daily said. But the defendants, all once powerful political figures and military officers, will have to watch the proceedings through iron bars, which will enclose the defense stand, the newspaper said.
"This historical trial is an announcement to the whole world," the People's Daily article said, "that our party, our nation, our people and our military forces can pass through a dangerous experience and that they cannot be beaten . . . [The defendants] will be nailed to the pillar of shame."
Chinese officials have held four days of briefings on the indictment against the 10, and today indicated that the trial proceedings should begin to unfold in a matter of days.
In the last portion of what is said to be a 20,000-character indictment, three leaders of the Gang of Four radicals are accused of plotting an armed rebellion in Shanghai in October 1976, which allegedly had been scheduled to begin two days after the four, led by Mao's wife, Jiang, Qing, were arrested.
Even after the arrests, the indictment said, the gang's associates in Shanghai armed 33,500 local militiamen to take over China's largest city. The plans allegedly called for taking over Shangahi's transportation and communications centers as the beginning of a nationwide rebellion.
Despite giving fine details on how the rebellion was supposed to have worked, including such plans as cutting off electricity and barricading airport runways with steel ingots, the indictment fails to explain why the scheme collapsed.
The charge of plotting the Shanghai insurrection is one of the four central accusations at the upcomong trial. In addition, the defendants, who include five generals, face various combinations of charges of persecuting party and state leaders, attempting to assasinate Mao and plotting an armed coup d'etat. s
In its editions today, the People's Daily said the fallen radicals will be divided into two groups of five for trial. Sections of the indictment that have been distributed in the last four days name the five generals as leaders with Lin Biao of a 1971 plot to assasinate Mao and take over the country by force.
The other five defendants -- the Gang of Four led by Jiang Qing and Mao's longtime secretary, Chen Boda -- have been charged in the indictment with framing, persecuting, torturing and murdering Chinese officials and ordinary citizens during a 10-year span beginning in 1966. The indictment claims that more than 34,000 deaths and 500,000 casualties resulted from their activities.
Because of the enormous human costs of the Cultural Revolution -- party General Secretary Hu Yaobang has estimated that over 100 million Chinese suffered in some fashion from the terror and economic dislocations of the period -- today's leaders have invited hundreds of spectators to observe the courtroom drama. Among the hundreds now in Peking for the first phase of the trial, the People's Daily cited residents of every Chinese city, province and autonomous region, soldiers, minority representatives, members of such organizations as the Women's Federation and Communist Youth League as well as the relatives of Cultural Revolution victims.
In the courtroom, the newspaper said, observers will see 700 pieces of evidence -- including files, notes, records of conversations and tapes -- which will be used to prosecute the 10 defendants. If convicted, the 10 could be sentenced to death.