Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

Whistle blowing, confessions and showing remorse ... how China’s corrupt officials try to get lighter sentences

Lawyer known for defending fallen ‘tigers’ advises his clients to come clean

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 10:03pm

Corrupt Chinese officials may earn lighter sentences by blowing the whistle on fellow officials, confessing to their crimes or even crying and wailing in court, a criminal defence lawyer known for representing disgraced senior officials has revealed.

Xu Lanting, who represented former presidential aide Ling Jihua, said in an interview with the Beijing Times that fallen officials often exposed the crimes of fellow officials in the hope of more lenient sentences.

“If what they expose of others is verified to be true, they will be considered to have “made a contribution’… which allows them to be given a lighter sentence according to law,” Xu was quoted as saying in the article published on Monday.

Xu, 55, is known for representing senior corrupt officials. Apart from Ling, he has defended a number of other “tigers”, including Li Zhi, former deputy chief of Xinjiang’s people’s congress; and Shen Peiping, former vice-governor of Yunnan province.

Ling Jihua, former Chinese presidential aide, sentenced to life in prison

Ling, the one-time top aide to former president Hu Jintao, was in July sentenced to life in jail for accepting more than 77 million yuan (HK$88 million) in bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abusing his power.

In announcing the verdict, the Tianjin No 1 Intermediate Court said Ling’s guilty plea was taken into account in his sentencing.

About 100 senior party officials have been netted in an ongoing anti-corruption crackdown launched by President Xi Jinping after he rose to power almost four years ago. Only around one-third of them have been sentenced so far.

Xu said another way for defendants to have their punishment reduced was to confess to crimes that hadn’t been uncovered by the agencies handling their cases.

“Therefore, making a contribution and confessing one’s crime is the first thing we lawyers consider when we defend [our clients],” he said.

Jail terms, confessions and anti-graft TV ... how China ensures a trouble-free top Communist Party meeting

Dramatic exhibitions of remorse in court – often featured on China’s state broadcaster’s prime-time newscasts – could also affect sentencing, Xu said.

“Crying, wailing, confessing and repenting in court is one element to be considered when giving a lighter sentence. Confessing is [better] than denying, therefore, it will definitely be reflected in the measurement of penalty,” he said.

Xu added that the officials were not merely “acting out” their regret.

“Many defendants are also sincere in showing repentance …They also said so outside of court, such as that they are sorry to the party, to the country and to their family,” he said.