Gang-rape defendant’s family to request open trial

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 8:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 8:23pm

The family of a teenaged defendant in a highly anticipated gang-rape case will ask the court for an open trial, their legal consultant said on Sunday.

“To ensure a transparent and fair trial, I am asking the court, on behalf of the defendant’s mother, for an open trial. So that all evidence, facts and details of the investigation can be made available to the public,” read an open letter published on China’s microblog service Sina Weibo on Sunday.

The letter was signed by Meng Ge, mother of Li Guanfeng. The post also said that the application would be submitted to the court in a few days.

Li, 17, who was formerly known as Li Tianyi, is the son of PLA singers Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge. He stands accused of gang-raping a woman along with four others in a Beijing hotel in February.

Two years ago, Li Guangfeng, then aged 15, hit a car while driving without a licence. He then assaulted a couple in the other car and warned onlookers against reporting the incident to the police. He was sentenced to a year at a reform centre for juvenile delinquents and was only released a few months before the alleged gang rape.

The closely watched case has seen many voice concerns that the teenager’s celebrity parents would attempt to influence the trial in their son’s favour.

“Between privacy and truth, Meng Ge bravely chose the later,” said Lan He, the family’s legal consultant, regarding Meng’s open letter.

But legal experts remained doubtful that the court would approve her request.

“Trials involving defendants under the age of 18 at the start of the hearing should not be open,” wrote the alleged victim’s lawyer Tian Canjun in a post on Sina Weibo, quoting China’s criminal law, in an apparent response to Meng’s open letter.

Some lawyers doubted if the application was legitimate due to the fact that Meng Ge was a stage name. Lan He on Monday refuted this claim stating that the name Meng Ge was used on her official centificate of identification.

Bloggers also voiced their opinions of Meng’s latest high-profile move.

“This shows [the family is] confident of winning the case,” one blogger said on Sina Weibo. Another claimed Meng’s application was merely a public relations stunt. “He [Lan He] knows that the trial cannot be open. Nonetheless, he allowed his client to file such an application,” the weibo user’s comment read.