A prominent Guangzhou lawyer has been arrested and charged with cheating an alleged drug trafficker out of more than 1 million yuan, sparking debate among legal experts over the nature of the charges. Ma Kedong , who defended Song Pengfei, a gangster from Liaoning , six years ago, was detained in Guangzhou on October 20 by Liaoning police and sent to provincial capital Shenyang on the same day, a source familiar with the case said. The source said Ma, 59, was officially arrested one month later for cheating Song out of more than 1 million yuan while acting as a defence lawyer for members of Song's triad in a 2001 criminal case stemming from a gang fight that saw one person killed and three injured. Song was arrested in Guangzhou in 2005 for alleged drug trafficking, and several police officers in Shenyang fell from grace because they had protected him. Song is in detention and his case is still being investigated. Ma is famed for defending the police in the case of Sun Zhigang , a college student beaten to death by Guangzhou police in 2003 while in custody. His death prompted the government to drop a 21-year-old repatriation system. The source said Ma was innocent as the money was his fee for the 2001 case, although the contract between Song's company and Ma's former legal firm had been lost. The source said mainland lawyers were not allowed to sign contracts on their own behalf with clients, and contracts could only be signed by the legal firms that they represented. 'The case should not be a fraud case,' the source said. 'He could only be accused of overcharging, on the condition that the original contract has been lost.' A law professor from the China University of Political Science and Law, agreed. 'Since the defence lawyer has done what he is supposed to do, the money should be his legitimate income, even if the contract was lost. Even if the money was transferred to him instead of the firm, the charge could only be tax evasion.' But Chen Zhonglin , law school director at Southwest University of Politics and Law, said details could change the nature of the case. 'Without any legal documents available, we can't decide the nature of the case,' he said. Ma's case has not been passed to prosecutors.