News / Asia

Controversy Plagues China Trial Even Before It Starts

Hefei City Intermediate People's Court, Aug. 8, 2012, where the murder trial of Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai,  will start Thursday. Hefei City Intermediate People's Court, Aug. 8, 2012, where the murder trial of Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, will start Thursday.
x
Hefei City Intermediate People's Court, Aug. 8, 2012, where the murder trial of Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai,  will start Thursday.
Hefei City Intermediate People's Court, Aug. 8, 2012, where the murder trial of Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, will start Thursday.
Kate WoodsomeLu Yang
A day before China’s biggest political trial in decades is set to open, the lawyer for one of the co-defendants says he hasn’t even met his client.

Li Xiaolin, a prominent Beijing criminal lawyer, says he’s planning to be in the courtroom when Zhang Xiaojun stands trial for conspiring with the wife of a disgraced Communist Party leader to poison British businessman Neil Heywood. But Li says he won’t be able to ask any questions. That job, he says, will be left up to the state-appointed lawyers.

“I know nothing more than you know about the entire case,” he told VOA in an interview Wednesday.

Zhang is accused of poisoning Heywood in Chongqing last November, a crime allegedly committed with Gu Kailai, the wife of the megacity’s former Communist Party boss Bo Xilai.

Li traveled nearly 1,000 kilometers from Beijing to Hefei, in Anhui province, where the trial is taking place, a journey many foreign journalists are making this week to try to cover the hearing. Their access to the story likely will be as limited as Li’s access to his client, however. Li says the only information he has gleaned about the crime is from state-run media.

“I can only make an assessment based on Xinhua News Agency and nothing more,” he said.

Xinhua is the only news agency in China reporting on the story. Its last dispatch reported July 26 that an investigation showed Gu and her son had disputes with Heywood over “economic interests.” Motivated by concerns about her son’s safety, Xinhua said Gu and Zhang, her butler, poisoned Heywood.

Li, Zhang’s lawyer, said even based on that limited report, his client should not be considered a guilty party.

“You can judge from what Xinhua said that Gu had some relationship with him [Heywood] and Zhang didn’t know him [Heywood], so who would you say killed Heywood?” he said.

Xinhua has presented the case as clear cut, reporting that the results of an investigation showed the defendants should be charged with intentional homicide. The news agency also placed unusual emphasis on the defendants’ rights and due process, a move that Madeline Earp of the Committee to Protect Journalists says likely aimed to contain domestic scrutiny of the trial.

“I think this is a sign that they want to keep the coverage very much focused on the criminal angle to prevent it from influencing perceptions of Bo Xilai as a politician and specifically as a privileged communist party leader who very likely was abusing his position,” Earp said.

Bo was a Communist Party darling slated to rise in the ranks during the party congress in November. He was stripped of his posts after his police chief reportedly took refuge in a nearby U.S. consulate, sharing stories of Heywood’s murder and Bo’s alleged cover-up of the crime. Bo likely will face trial before the party’s disciplinary committee.

Bo and Gu’s son, Bo Guagua, told CNN in an email Tuesday that he has submitted a witness statement to his mother’s defense team, since he was cited as a motivating factor in the murder. He said the facts would speak for themselves.

Gu’s family lawyer declined to comment to VOA, and the state-appointed defense teams are refusing to speak with the media.

Li, the butler’s lawyer, said he didn’t know about Bo Guagua’s letter. But he said even if the letter is real, he has no idea whether it can change Zhang’s sentence.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

New Yellow Fever Research May Lead to Improved Treatment

Researchers identify features of disease that may lead to more effective treatment More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid