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Shenzhen Policeman Appealing 14-Year Sentence; Lawyers Bring Complaint to Central Authorities

February 25, 2013

In two complaints (Chinese only), lawyers representing Shenzhen police officer Wang Dengchao (王登朝), who is waiting for an appeal ruling on his 14-year prison sentence on “embezzlement” and “obstructing official business,” named 23 individuals in the Shenzhen municipal and local Luohu authorities—including the mayor and Party Secretary of Shenzhen—as being complicit in a gross miscarriage of justice in Wang’s case.

The complaints, sent to dozens of Guangdong provincial as well as central government and Party departments, outline what Wang’s lawyers, Wang Quanzhang (王全章) and Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), contend are concerted efforts by law enforcement and the judiciary to incriminate and convict Wang through fabrication, concealment, and destruction of evidence, perjury, and violation of court procedures. “The Shenzhen public security, procuratorate, and the judiciary, together with the [Party’s] Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, have formed a crime syndicate to circumvent the law for their own benefit,” says one of the complaints.

The central government authorities listed among the recipients of the complaints include the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and the Ministry of Supervision.

Wang Quanzhang and Liu Xiaoyuan recently replaced Wang’s previously lawyers, Li Jinglin (李静林) and Li Jinxing (李金星), who withdrew from the case in protest on February 7, 2012, after they were prevented from making their statements during the appeals hearing at the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court. The lawyers walked out of the hearing, citing procedural violations. The judges continued and concluded the hearing that day but did not issue a ruling.

Last week, the new lawyers filed an application (Chinese only) with the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court requesting a new appeal hearing at a court outside of Shenzhen. According to lawyer Liu, the court rejected their requested verbally.

Lawyer Liu told Human Rights in China that when he met with Wang Dengchao at the Luohu District Detention Center of Shenzhen on February 20, Wang told him that he was initially held by the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau on the grounds of “unlawful assembly” and “subversion of state power.” Then, without questioning him, the prosecutors visited Wang in detention and asked him if he would plead guilty to a new charge: “embezzlement.” Wang also said that in July 2012, he was transferred to Shenzhen’s No. 2 Detention Center for more than 20 days for "disobeying orders," where he suffered beatings by fellow inmates from organized crime and those on death-row.

Liu believes that the prosecution changed its charge because it is easier to convict someone on an economic crime than a political one, as in the case against artist Ai Weiwei. Liu said that Wang’s case is absurd because the prosecution seriously lacks evidence for embezzlement involving 2.83 million yuan

Liu sees four possible outcomes: 1) the conviction will be upheld and the appeal dismissed; 2) the case will be remanded to the lower court; 3) the sentence will be commuted and the charge of “obstructing official business” dismissed; 4) a new assessment of the amount “embezzled” resulting in a lighter sentence. Liu also said that if the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court does not issue a ruling within one week, it will have to wait until after the annual sessions of “Two Congress”—the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference—convening in March.

Background on Wang Dengchao’s Case

When he was detained on March 8, 2012, Wang was an officer at the Luohu Branch of the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau as well as a manager at the seventh bureau of the Shenzhen Security Service Company, a business controlled by the Public Security Bureau. Before his detention, he had been planning a large public gathering at Shenzhen’s Lianhuashan Park to commemorate Sun Yat-sen and to call for democracy, social security, free medical care, and equal pension for all, using his own money and a bank loan to pay for 3,000 t-shirts printed with Sun’s picture and motto, “Justice for All” (天下为公). On a previous occasion, Wang caused a stir when he attempted to organize a union in the Shenzhen Security Service Company. 

An internal document showed that the police authorities originally planned to cite him for 1) violation of political disciplinary rules for police officers (by “spreading any views that damage the state’s reputation, or organizing or participating in such activities as assemblies, processions, or demonstrations with the purpose of going against the state,” prohibited by the Regulations on the Disciplinary Actions against Civil Servants of Administrative Organs[行政机关公务员处分条例]), and 2) endangering state security (by “participating in, harboring, or conspiring any illegal act which harms state security,” prohibited by the  Regulations on the Disciplines for People’s Police Forces of Public Security Organs [公安机关人民警察纪律条令]). The latter violation would lead to a charge of subversion of state power.

Li Jinglin, one of Wang’s former lawyers for the appeal, wrote in a profile of Wang (Chinese only) that he believed that when the authorities failed to establish a case of subversion, they moved on to the charge of “obstructing official business.” And then to make sure that Wang would get a heavy sentence, Li wrote, they made up the crime of “embezzlement” which carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of death when 100,000 yuan or more is involved. The prosecution accused Wang of pocketing more than 2.83 million yuan from a Shenzhen Security Service Company contract to provide power grid security for the World University Games in Shenzhen in 2011.

According to the profile, Wang Dengchao graduated from the Northwest University of Political Science and Law, and previously served as the deputy director of a police sub-station after becoming an officer in Shenzhen. He has also given financial assistance to the daughter of imprisoned rights defense lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟).

Wang was sentenced by Luohu District People’s Court of Shenzhen on November 26, 2012. The appeal hearing was originally scheduled for February 1, 2013. That day, when about 50 netizens from Guangzhou and Shenzhen and other parts of the country gathered in front of the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court to show their support for Wang and at the lawyers’ request, the court postponed the hearing to February 7.

 

For more information about Wang Dengchao, see:

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