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In Important Move, Railway Court Vacates Lawyer’s Sentence on Appeal, Citing Unclear Facts

August 11, 2010

In a case that has attracted widespread attention, particularly in the lawyers’ community, on August 10, 2010, the Beijing Railway Transportation Intermediate Court vacated the “intentional injury” conviction and three-year prison sentence of Beijing lawyer Wang Yu (王宇). The court cited “unclear facts” in the trial of first instance and remanded the case for a new trial. With the exception of a few days, Wang Yu has been in detention since her arrest in December 2008.

Wang’s husband, Bao Longjun (包龙军), said that the family is pleased with the ruling. He also said that in the new trial, “We hope that the court will respect the facts and the evidence and find Wang Yu not guilty.” He added, “We don’t have any other demands.

My wife has already been locked up for too long. Our family has already spent so much energy and sacrificed so much that we no long resemble a family.” 

On May 4, 2008, after a dispute between Wang and several workers at the Tianjin West Railway Station, Wang filed a complaint with the supervisory unit of the Tianjin Railway Public Security Office alleging that police officers at the railway station mishandled the incident. Seven months later, on December 9, 2008, instead of receiving a response to her complaint, Wang Yu was taken from her Beijing home to Tianjin by the same officers named in her complaint. Wang was formally arrested for beating up several  railway workers, causing one of them to become deaf. On March 26, 2010, Wang was convicted of “intentional injury” by the Tianjin Railway Transportation Court and sentenced to three years in prison. Wang’s appeal was heard by the Beijing Railway Transportation Intermediate Court on June 22, 2010.

On August 6, 2010, 26 lawyers and academics issued a joint public appeal pointing out significant procedural breaches in Wang’s prosecution, from the criminal investigation performed by a public security bureau under the special jurisdiction of the Ministry of Railways to the trial by a court under the same jurisdiction. The appeal stated that: the prosecution did not provide sufficient proof that: the deafness of one of the alleged victims was a result of a beating by Wang, an assertion on which Wang’s “intentional injury” conviction was based; the entire case was investigated and handled by the police officers who were the subject of Wang’s original complaint; and all the evidence favorable to Wang was excluded from trial, including police records of the initial investigation and surveillance recordings that would have shown that Zhang Gefei (张格非), the alleged victim of Wang’s beating who became deaf, was not at the scene.

Wang’s case has prompted a public debate on whether such a court system can function with impartiality. On August 9, 2010, a proposal drafted by lawyer Zhang Kai (张凯) and signed by more than 30 other lawyers was made public, calling on the National People’s Congress to investigate the constitutionality of the exercise of prosecutorial and judicial powers under the jurisdiction of the railway system. The proposal points out that China’s Constitution stipulates that the “people's courts shall, in accordance with the law, exercise judicial power independently and are not subject to interference by administrative organs, public organizations or individuals” (Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, Section 7, Article 126) and argues that a court system under the administrative power of the railway authorities “is in clear violation of the Constitution.”

Human Rights in China (HRIC) urges the authorities to ensure that the re-trial of Wang Yu is fair and independent, and that the legal system under the special jurisdiction of the Ministry of Railways is not misused for retaliatory purposes. HRIC also supports the call for a full and transparent investigation by the National People’s Congress, and for long overdue reform, to ensure that the legal system under the special jurisdiction of the Ministry of Railways is in full compliance with Chinese domestic and international human rights laws.


For more information on Wang Yu’s case in Chinese, see:



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