Wen Qiang appeals against death sentence; still denies protecting mafia-style gangs
CHONGQING - Wen Qiang, the former deputy chief of the police authority in this southern municipality, appealed against his conviction of protecting gangs, bribery, rape and property scamming on Thursday during his second trial and asked for a lenient sentence.
Wen received the death penalty for committing the crimes after his first trial in April - a milestone wrapping up Chongqing's anti-gang campaign that convicted 383 mafia-style gangsters and netted dozens of fallen police officers who protected the organizations.
The second trial is expected to last two to three days in the Chongqing People's Higher Court.
Local residents are discussing if Wen, 54, who protected five organized gangs for more than a decade, will avoid the early death sentence.
The exposure of a part of the diary of the judge who presided over Wen's first trial sparked renewed debate over the case.
The diary reportedly stated that the related panel of judges disputed over the first trial's ruling.
"The amount of bribes Wen accepted is not the largest among similar crimes convicted across the country in recent years", Wang Lixin, the judge from the Chongqing No 5 Intermediate People's Court, wrote in his diary.
The diary was published on Chinacourt.org, the website affiliated to the country's top court.
The court in the first instance said Wen accepted or accepted through his wife 12.11 million yuan ($1.77 million) from 20 organizations or individuals when he was in power from 1996 to 2009.
Wen's lawyer Yang Kuangsheng last year succeeded in securing a death sentence with reprieve for the former director of the city's planning bureau, Jiang Yong, who was convicted of accepting 17.96 million yuan of bribes.
"I agree with the judge. The penalty is comparably heavier," said a member of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who observed Thursday's hearing and did not want to be named.
"But they may consider the negative social impact generated by Wen's misconduct - especially in his role as deputy head of the police authority and head of the justice bureau for years," he said.
"The anger of Chongqing residents may not be pacified if Wen is not executed," a netizen posted on the Chongqing section of popular online forum Tianya.
In comparison with heated discussion on the forum, about less than 20 people gathered outside the court on Thursday in Chongqing.
Wen, wearing a yellow prison vest and calm in court, spoke clearly to claim credit for being cooperative in pre-trial investigations.
He said he had submitted confessions and letters of remorse for his actions, and offered clues for other crimes.
Among all the questionable assets mentioned in the indictment, Wen said he confessed to 85 percent of it, indicating he had been cooperative in the investigation.
A less heavy punishment should be given according to the law, he said.
He also said that the first trial "inaccurately" determined some evidence as established crimes and that led to a "more severe penalty" - which "should be appealed".
But Wen provided no fresh evidence. He continued to deny his role as a "gang protector" and his rape charges.
He also challenged the actual amount of bribes and family assets of unexplainable source in the charges against him.
He said he was "unaware of the gang's illegal businesses", "not told by (his) wife about who came and left money", "did not rape the girl" and that "the calculation of his property is problematic".
During Wen's 14-year tenure in the police and justice bureaus, 640,000 criminal cases remained unsolved and 1,447 murders were not investigated, the China Youth Daily reported last week.
Other five co-defendants, including Wen's wife Zhou Xiaoyao and three of Wen's subordinate police, also stood in the appeal trial on Thursday.