Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Four Chongqing policemen to face trial for alleged torture under Bo Xilai’s crime crackdown
One of the accused says they were simply following orders but actually 'opposed illegal interrogation tactics'
At least four Chongqing police officers will stand trial later this month on accusations of torturing interrogation suspects during the anti-triad crackdown of Bo Xilai’s former right-hand man.
Their cases will be heard at two courts in the municipality, according to an unnamed police source who spoke to the Southern Weekly.
The triad crackdown, launched by then-city party chief Bo, was enforced by former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, who later turned against his boss and sparked the biggest political scandal in China’s recent history.
The trials mark the first publicly reported re-examination of illegal police practices under the crackdown, which ended in early 2012 with the downfall of Bo and Wang. Previously, evidence of police abuse had been repeatedly presented to the courts during the trials of alleged triads, but they were mostly swept aside.
In one of two cases to be heard by the courts, Changshou district police officers Gou Hongbo, Dan Bo and Zheng Xiaolin were accused of forcing a confession by torturing the chairman of a construction firm, the newspaper said.
Chonqing Daye Concrete Group chairman Lu Jian, who turned himself in for an unspecified crime, was interrogated in the district’s detention centre in the summer of 2011. He said he suffered serious nerve injury on his arms during the ordeal.
Gou reportedly slapped Lu’s face, while Dan and Zheng locked Lu’s hands into two iron clamps above his head so that the detainee would be forced to stand throughout the interrogation.
Prosecutors started investigating the officers from June last year to last month and brought the case to the district court.
Zheng wrote in his defence that they were simply following orders. Most of the officers involved in the case opposed the interrogation tactics, which were “obviously illegal”, but they were ignored, he said.
“We staff members who had been ordered to handle the case were just following the instructions of the organisation [our superiors],” Zheng was quoted as saying.
Zheng’s wife, Cheng Min, said: “Many officers were forced to participate in the anti-triad drive Under the circumstances, he disagreed with some methods they used.
“If Zheng has committed a crime, then several thousand other officers have, too,” she said.
In the other case, Wu Jiong, head of the Chenjiaqiao police station under Chongqing’s Shapingba district, was detained in October for torturing another policeman, Wang Yong, and breaking his collarbone during interrogation, according to Caijing magazine.
Under Wang’s direction, the Chongqing police snared nearly 6,000 people, including billionaires, senior party cadres, lawyers and gang bosses as part of Bo’s “singing red, striking black” crusade against organised crime between 2008 and 2011.
Though it made Bo a rising star in the party and Wang an anti-triad hero, the crackdown was controversial for its heavy-handed approach marked by illegal detentions and excessive use of force.
Wang Lijun had a reputation for meting out punishments for even the most minor mistakes, the South China Morning Post has reported. Many police officers, including some who worked closely with Wang, said these ranged from demerits and demotions to sacking.
Bo was expelled from the party and sentenced to life in September last year for bribery, corruption and abuse of power.
Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison in September 2012 for defection, bribery, abuse of power and bending the law after he fell out with his boss Bo Xilai and sought political asylum in the US consulate in Chengdu earlier that year.