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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid