Seven years after the end of its Cultural Revolution, China has completed trying the radical zealots who led the bloody campaign, the nation's top judicial officer reported today.
Supreme People's Court President Jiang Hua, in a report to the national parliament, said trials in two cities and six provinces have resulted in punishment for the allies of Mao Tse-tung's widow, who inspired widespread persecutions from 1966 to 1976.
Jiang said 326,000 people who had been framed or falsely imprisoned during the chaotic decade have been exonerated after court review.
Many of the moderate Communists now running China were jailed or beaten by rampaging worker militia called Red Guards, and the current ruling hierarchy headed by Deng Xiaoping vowed to get revenge through the court system.
Although Deng's faction is gearing up for a purge of unrepentant radicals still in the Communist Party--about half of its 40 million members joined during the Cultural Revolution--Jiang's address appears to signal the end of almost three years of political trials.
The Cultural Revolution was declared over in October 1976 with the arrest of Mao's widow, Jiang Qing, and her three radical confederates who had gained control of the party and steered the Cultural Revolution from Peking.
But the political trials did not begin until late 1980 and early 1981, when Jiang Qing's "Gang of Four" was convicted of "counterrevolutionary" crimes and jailed for long terms. Jiang had been sentenced to death, but she was reprieved this year after showing "sufficient repentance."
More than a year after the Gang of Four convictions, the trials began spreading to China's provinces, where scores of radical leaders have been imprisoned since 1976.
Court President Jiang Hua told the National People's Congress that the "backbone elements of the Jiang Qing clique" have been tried and punished in a series of court hearings last year.
Leftists in the Army who had participated in an alleged 1971 plot by the late defense minister Lin Piao to assassinate Mao also have been given "due punishment" by the military court, Jiang reported.
"The historical task of trying the Lin Piao and Jiang Qing counterrevolutionary cliques has been accomplished," declared the jurist, who had been persecuted during the Cultural Revolution.
Jiang did not cite numbers of newly convicted radicals or give their sentences. But official news reports during the past 18 months have disclosed trials and long prison terms for about 40 local and national followers of the Gang of Four.
Meanwhile, the party is getting ready for a three-year "rectification" drive designed to root out lingering leftists from in the huge Communist apparatus as well as corrupt and indolent officials.