A Beijing-based lawyer has been jailed for 2? years by a Chongqing court for fabricating evidence in his defence of an alleged triad boss, a verdict that raises renewed concerns about the mainland's judicial integrity. Li Zhuang was defending Gong Gangmo, who was arrested in the municipality's biggest crackdown on organised crime which began in June. Gong is charged with murder, possession of firearms and other serious crimes. Li pleaded not guilty to the accusations at the trial on December 29. His lawyer, Gao Zicheng , said before the verdict that Li would appeal if convicted. Li and Gao are from Beijing Kang Da Law Firm, one of the mainland's top firms. According to a harshly worded report by China Youth Daily in mid-December, Gong was said to have turned his lawyer in at 'the tug of his conscience', after Li 'coached' him to falsely claim forced confession, offered bribes on his behalf and charged extortionate sums for the defence services. Li was portrayed in the report as a brash and aggressive lawyer who boasted of strong networks, and was known for winning cases through technicalities. Li's case stirred mixed feelings among the legal community. While questions were raised about Li's professional ethics, most criticised irregularities in the way the case was handled. 'The crackdown has become a campaign where the police, prosecutors and courts all joined hands,' said Peking University law professor He Weifang. 'The room for criminal defence lawyers has been further squashed. Our judicial integrity suffered as a result.' Police were apparently illegally present during Li's three meetings with Gong before Li was arrested - the reason police had evidence of Li's crime. Seven of the eight witnesses gave written testimony while they were in custody, and none of them were present at the trial. They offered different descriptions of how Li coached his client: in speech and through actions, such as winking. During the 16-hour trial, prosecutors accused Li of hiring prostitutes while in Chongqing, a claim that was irrelevant to the charges he faced. 'Even if corruption among lawyers is becoming widespread, this is still ultimately a flaw of the judiciary,' Professor He said. 'If the judges were just and could not be bribed, then lawyers could only rely on law and not resort to other means to protect the interests of their clients.' A larger flaw was that Li was convicted of fabricating false evidence even before Gong's trial started. Rights lawyer Li Jingsong said it was inappropriate for Li Zhuang to be charged under the much-criticised clause 306 of the criminal code - which holds lawyers responsible for fake evidence submitted on behalf of the client. 'If he was really guilty of the facts contained in the China Youth Daily, he should be charged with fraud and offering bribes,' Li Jingsong said. 'The fact that such charges were never considered suggested authorities had ulterior motives.' Another high-profile rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, called for the legal sector to unite and be tough towards both Li Zhuang and the authorities. 'We must expose the authorities' illegal behaviour in Li Zhuang's case, but we must also not be afraid to point out and reflect on the dark side that exists in our profession,' Pu said. 'Only in this way can we fully comprehend the significance of Li Zhuang's case.'