Convicted Chinese protest leader renounces bribery confession after getting heavy sentence

Wukan village chief Lin Zuluan, who is appealing his case, now denies having taken bribes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 3:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 11:55pm

The chief of a Guangdong village that made headlines five years ago over land protests on Wednesday renounced his confession to taking bribes.

Former Wukan village chief Lin Zuluan withdrew his confession during a hearing into his appeal against a 37-month sentence and 200,000 yuan (HK$230,000) fine handed down last month by a Chancheng district court in Foshan.

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In his trial last month, Lin confessed to taking 600,000 yuan in bribes and kickbacks in relation to building projects in Wukan and other deals on behalf of the village committee.

Wednesday’s hearing in the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court ended just before noon but a verdict was not given, according to sources close to Lin’s family. A final decision could be delivered next week.

A legal source close to the family said the court notified the relatives of the appeal hearing just days before it was scheduled.

“Lin is fighting against the sentence handed down in the trial as some of the accusations against him were untrue. His words in the trial were all staged,” the source said.“It is highly unlikely he will be exonerated and we are hoping his sentence will not be increased.”

The source said Lin filed the appeal in a last-ditch effort to fight for justice.

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His family said they felt cheated by Guangdong authorities when Lin received a heavy sentence even though he agreed to cooperate with the government by confessing to charges.

After the trial last month, one of Lin’s three sons said the family was expecting to see Lin at home in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival because they were under the impression Lin would be shown leniency in return for confessing to the charges against him.

The police presence outside the Foshan court was not as heavy as that at Lin’s trial last month.

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But the authorities sealed off the main road leading to the court from the previous evening. Plainclothes and uniformed police officers guarded side entrances.

When approached by reporters, court officials at one gate said all seats in the courtroom were ­reserved.

Reporters were asked to present their identification but were denied entry.

A policeman said Lin was in good shape and that his health was not grounds for concern.

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According to a statement on the Foshan court’s website, Lin sought an appeal against the charges and the sentence handed down after the trial on September 8 despite saying initially that he would not do so.

The statement said the city’s procuratorate also disputed the sentence, claiming it was too short.

A verdict would be handed down on a separate date, the court said, adding that the appeal hearing was attended by members of Lin’s family, journalists and the public.