Bo Xilai

Labour camp inmate attacks payout for 'mishandled' case over online Bo Xilai joke

Ex-grocery store owner criticises compensation for 'mishandled' sentence over 2011 online joke

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 July, 2013, 5:50am

A Chongqing court has granted compensation to a man sentenced to two years in a labour camp for publishing a provocative comment online during the heyday of disgraced party boss Bo Xilai.

The Bishan county court ordered the government to pay Huang Chengcheng, 134,000 yuan (HK$168,000) as compensation for "mishandling" the case, which stemmed from a 2011 internet posting in which Huang urged his friends to gather and "drink jasmine tea".

Huang, 30, said he intended the comment - a reference to the "jasmine" uprisings then sweeping the Arab world - to be a joke.

The former grocery store owner, who was released in December after serving 21 months in a labour camp, said he was disappointed that court's award had fallen far short of his demand for 680,000 yuan.

"I'm not satisfied with the compensation," Huang told the Sunday Morning Post. "The time in the labour camp ruined my life and now people treat me like a criminal."

The award, including 116,000 yuan in financial compensation and 18,000 yuan for mental suffering, amounts to about 182 yuan for each day of his original sentence.

Huang said his request for a public apology from the committee that oversees the labour camp was also rejected. Instead, a local policeman commissioned by the Chongqing government made an apology during the hearing.

Huang had previously served five years in jail for "incitement to subvert state power" for posting articles online asking the government to reassess the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

Chongqing authorities have in recent months overturned a number of labour camp sentences handed down during Bo's tenure. The decisions come amid a broader re-evaluation of the hated labour camp system and an official repudiation of Bo, who was removed from office last year and is awaiting trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Many of those released have received compensation, but complain the awards have been too small.

Tian Hongyuan, a former stock analyst who was sent to a camp over an online joke in 2010, said people like him are still suffering from the "aftershocks".