Lawyer's defence team criticises case as weak and unreasonable

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 12:00am


Defence lawyers say the second trial of lawyer Li Zhuang in Chongqing has followed correct procedures but they hope the court realises the prosecution case is flawed.

'In terms of submission of evidence, the court has fully allowed both sides to present their views,' said lawyer Chen Youxi, an adviser to Li's defence team, which has some of the country's top defence counsel, including Zhang Sizhi and Jiang Ping .

'However, the quality of the prosecution's case is weak. Several pieces of key evidence were absent.'

Li's case has galvanised the mainland's legal community because it is the second time that Li has been charged with fabricating evidence while working as a defence lawyer. Accusations of blatant procedural injustice and complaints the charge is unreasonable - clause 306 of the country's criminal code holds a lawyer liable for conflicting testimony of witnesses and defendants - were the two main criticisms.

In the first case, in which Li allegedly coached his client, Chonqging gang boss Gong Gangmo, to claim torture and forced confession at the height of the anti-triad crackdown in 2009, Li was convicted and jailed for 18 months. Li was due to be released in June, but Chongqing authorities said last month that he faced more charges.

Chongqing's Jiangbei District People's Court has heard evidence over the past two days about Li's involvement in a 2008 embezzlement case in Shanghai. Prosecutors alleged that Li coached witness Xu Lijun - also the person who allegedly complained to police about Li - to claim that the sum in question was a loan, instead of an investment, which would have meant that the defendant could use it freely without it being considered embezzlement.

Xu has not shown up for the trial. And prosecutors have not presented recordings of a meeting between Li and Xu in 2008, as well as a written record of a meeting between Xu and a former lawyer in 2005, which could undermine Xu's claims, Chen said.

Li also argued in court that Xu was a drug addict and if anything should be charged with perjury, instead of charging him with fabricating evidence. His request that Xu's capacity to testify be tested was denied.

Li's lawyer Si Weijiang in an online statement said Chongqing police had no right to investigate Li's case since the alleged crime was in Shanghai. Si also said that since Xu's complaint to police was made before Li's first case concluded, prosecutors should have merged the charges instead of submitting Li to two trials.