Zhejiang judge remarks on openness of Bo Xilai trial

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 3:00pm

A provincial court chief has remarked on the openness of the trial of disgraced party highflyer Bo Xilai when appealing for a more transparent judiciary.

“In the case of Bo’s trial, if it hadn’t been carried out under openness to such an extent, who knows how many rumours would have been stirred up,” said Qi Qi, president of Zhejiang Provincial High People’s Court on Tuesday.

Bo, a former member of the Communist Party politburo, was sentenced in August to life imprisonment for taking bribes, corruption and abuse of power, in perhaps China’s biggest political scandal in decades.

His five-day trial, which drew worldwide media attention even though it was not broadcast live, set a precedent for trial reporting as the court posted a stream of updates on its official microblog account during the trial in a rare show of openness.

Qi made the remarks during an interview with people.com.cn, becoming the latest senior justice to endorse recent pledges for increased transparency in China’s judicial system.

“Pushing for judicial transparency is essential to ultimately accomplishing social impartiality and justice … The more intricate, significant and of interest to the public a case is, the greater the need for a transparent trial,” said Qi, “Only in this way can the general public learn to trust the rule of law.”

The chief justice added that some judges were reluctant to embrace the drive for transparency due to their own shortcomings. Qi said there had been cases where judges had become emotional or sworn during trials. But Qi said that increased transparency would lead to modified behaviour in courts.

Qi’s comments come at a time when China is introducing measures to increase openness in courts amid calls for courts at all levels to become more independent from the Communist Party.

China’s Supreme People’s Court President Zhou Qiang last month ordered over 3,000 provincial and lower level courts across the nation to begin posting judgments online. Last week, the Supreme Court in a news conference also promised to roll out guidelines on how to broadcast trials in the future and said every provincial high court had appointed a spokesperson.