China police chief set to avoid death sentence

JOHN GARNAUT
Last updated 21:06 18/09/2012
Wang Lijun
Reuters
AGGRESSIVE: Wang Lijun earned a reputation for fast acting, hard hitting police work.

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Wang Lijun, China’s most famous police chief, has accepted a litany of charges against him, including that he attempted to defect to the United States.

The former right-hand-man of fallen political star Bo Xilai, appears set to avoid a death sentence after a court spokesman yesterday praised his cooperation with authorities.

His trial at the Chengdu People’s Intermediate Court ended at about lunch time today, following a secret session yesterday morning.

A court spokesman, Yang Yuquan, said proceedings had been "public" but no independent journalists were permitted into court.

The spokesman made no mention of Bo, who remains in detention under the Communist Party’s internal discipline procedures, although it did praise Wang's cooperation in investigating the "crimes of others".

Many analysts expect the Party leadership may soon signal that Bo's case will progress to a criminal investigation.

Wang accepted that he had taken 3.05 million yuan (NZ$583,000) in bribes, in both property and cash, said the spokesman.

He also accepted that he had “repeatedly” conducted illegal electronic surveillance activities against “many people… thereby severely damaging the socialist legal system and the legitimate rights of citizens”.

And the defection charge was "serious".

"Wang Lijun, as a state employee with access to state secrets, left his position without permission when performing public duties and defected to a foreign consulate in China," said the spokesman.

“Wang Lijun raised no objections on the fundamental facts and the crimes charged against him,” said the court spokesman.

Wang fled to the US Consulate in Chengdu on February 6 and gave testimony about Bo’s wife Gu Kailai's involvement of the murder of Englishman Neil Heywood.

His escape and his testimony, repeated to Chinese investigators, led to Bo's sacking  as Chongqing Party boss on March 15.

The court spokesman applauded Wang's assistance in collating evidence against Gu, who was convicted last month of murder.

But it also said Wang was guilty of "bending the law for personal gain" by initially covering up Gu's murder so that she would not be charged.

“He exposed clues about the serious crimes of others, played an important role in the investigation of relevant cases and performed great meritorious deeds," the spokesman said.

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Wang's lawyer, Wang Yuncai, agreed with the procurator's presentation of the facts but argued that some charges, including bending the law,  abusing his power and bribery were not so serious.

She said Wang defected to the US Consulate in order to intervene in a crime that had been committed and he had "self-surrendered", according to the court spokesman.

She pleaded for a lenient punishment, said the spokesman.

"His physical condition was good and emotional state stable."

Reporters have little access to information beyond that provided by the spokesman.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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