Wang Lijun, Chongqing’s former vice mayor and former police chief, stood trial on Monday and Tuesday on charges of bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking in Chengdu, in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
At the trials in the Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People’s Court, prosecutors produced evidence while two lawyers retained by Wang defended him.
After the trials, the court announced that the verdict would be delivered on a day to be decided.
Wang, then Chongqing’s vice mayor, entered the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu without authorization and stayed there on Feb. 6 and 7 this year. The incident created negative impacts at home and abroad.
After the authorities investigated the incident in line with the law, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced the termination of Wang’s post as a deputy to the 11th NPC on June 30.
On July 22, Wang was arrested by the State Security Bureau of Chengdu for defection after the Chengdu Municipal People’s Procuratorate approved the arrest. On Aug. 2, after the investigation was completed, the case was handed to the Chengdu Municipal People’s Procuratorate for examination before prosecution.
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) assigned the Hefei Municipal People’s Procuratorate in east China’s Anhui Province to investigate Wang for bending the law for selfish ends. After the investigation was completed, the case was also transferred to the Chengdu Municipal People’s Procuratorate for examination on Aug. 2.
The SPP assigned the Sichuan Provincial People’s Procuratorate to investigate Wang for abuse of power and bribery. After the investigations were completed, the cases were separately handed to the Chengdu Municipal People’s Procuratorate on Aug. 8 and Sept. 1.
On Sept. 5, the Chengdu Municipal People’s Procuratorate filed charges against Wang with the Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People’s Court.
The Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People’s Court held a closed-door trial on Monday for Wang on the charges of defection and abuse of power and an open trial on the charges of bribe-taking and bending the law for selfish ends on Tuesday.
Three judges heard the cases, with Zhong Erpu, the court’s deputy chief, as the chief judge. In the prosecutors’ seat were Deputy Chief of the Chengdu Municipal People’s Procuratorate Wang Xin and his two colleagues.
Wang’s family and relatives, journalists, deputies to the people’s congress, political advisors, as well as ordinary citizens attended Tuesday’s trial.
Wang was born on Dec. 26, 1959, in the city of Arxan in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
In late 2007, Wang, then police chief of the city of Jinzhou in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, first met Bogu Kailai, who has been sentenced in another case.
Wang remained close with Bogu Kailai and her family after being transferred to Chongqing Municipality. He had assumed the positions of deputy party chief, deputy chief, party chief and head of Chongqing police and, later, vice mayor of Chongqing.
According to prosecutors, Wang, then police chief of Chongqing, had neglected his duty to investigate and suppress criminal acts and bent the law for personal interests.
Prosecutors said Wang knew perfectly well that Bogu Kailai was seriously suspected of intentional homicide, but he deliberately covered up her crimes so Bogu Kailai would not be held legally responsible.
The circumstances are especially serious. This behavior violates Clause 1 of Article 399 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, prosecutors said.
They added that Wang, as a state functionary who knew state secrets, left his post without authorization and defected to another country’s consulate while he was performing his official duty.
These circumstances are also serious and in violation of Article 109 of the Criminal Law, according to prosecutors.
Wang has violated the country’s relevant laws and regulations by using technical reconnaissance measures against many people on multiple occasions, either without the approval of authorities or by forging approval documents.
These acts have severely undermined the socialist legal system, infringed upon citizens’ legitimate rights and interests and violated Clause 1 of Article 397 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, prosecutors said.
Wang, acting as a state functionary, took advantage of his position and illegally accepted money and property worth more than 3.05 million yuan (484,127 U.S. dollars), in return for securing benefits for other individuals, a violation of Article 385 of the Criminal Law.
Provided with clear facts, valid and ample evidence, Wang should be held criminally responsible for the charges of bending the law for personal interests, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors and members of the defense counsel cross-examined the defendant in court. Prosecutors presented material and documentary evidence, witness testimonies, defendants’ statements and video and audio materials.
The defendant and his defense questioned the evidence. The prosecution and defense teams also debated issues, including facts, evidence and application of the law.
The Chengdu City People’s Procuratorate pointed out in its public prosecution paper that the criminal acts of defendant Wang Lijun have caused serious harm to society and his lesson should be taken as a warning.
The paper points out that as a state functionary, Wang should discipline himself and be clean and honest; as a law enforcement officer, he should stick to his belief in the law; as a Party cadre, he should hold the beliefs that everybody is equal before the law, there is no privilege before institution and there are no exceptions in institutional constraints.
“As China is building a socialist society under the rule of law, anyone who breaks the law should be punished by the law,” it says.
“I acknowledge and confess the guilt accused by the prosecuting body and show my repentance,” Wang said in his final statement at court.
“My acts were crimes, and I hope the serious impacts (caused by my acts) both at home and abroad would be eliminated through the trial. Meanwhile, I hope the trial will issue a warning to society and let more people draw lessons from me,” he said.
“For the Party organizations, people and relatives that have cared for me, I want to say here, sincerely, ‘I’m very, very sorry, I’ve let you down,'” Wang said.
After Wang Lijun entered the U.S. Consulate without authorization, police began to attach more importance to Bogu Kailai’s alleged murder of British national Neil Heywood, which was reported by Wang. The police set up a team to review the case, as well as re-investigated and cracked the case according to law.
Since Wang’s exposure of the case objectively played an important role in cracking it, why was he charged with bending the law for selfish ends? How did the conflicts between Wang and Bogu Kailai’s family come into being and gradually escalate? Why did Wang defect?
Based on an audit of the open trial, a media briefing and introduction by bodies authorized to handle the case, the full process and key points of Wang’s case unfolded as follows:
— BENDING THE LAW FOR SELFISH ENDS
Bogu Kailai and her son, surnamed Bo, had conflicts with Heywood over economic interests. Bogu Kailai thought Heywood had endangered her son’s personal safety.
On Nov. 12, 2011, after a discussion with Bogu Kailai and some other people, Wang arranged surveillance and control efforts targeted at Heywood under the pretext that Heywood may have committed drug-related crimes.
On the night of Nov. 13, Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun, then an employee of the general office of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a family assistant for Bogu Kailai, poisoned Heywood at the Lucky Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. At midnight, after a talk on the phone with Bogu Kailai, Wang was informed that she had met Heywood in the hotel and had a drink with him.
The next day, Bogu Kailai recounted her murder of Heywood in detail to Wang in her residence. Wang secretly recorded her confession.
“At noon on Nov. 14, Wang Lijun came to the No. 3 building (Bogu Kailai’s residence). When I met Wang Lijun that day, I told him in detail about how I met and poisoned Neil on the night of Nov.13. He told me not to be bothered by the case, which would have nothing to do with me in the future. He also told me to erase my memories about the case. I told him I was a bit worried, he told me it would be fine within a week or two,” Bogu Kailai said while testifying at the trial.
A recording presented by prosecutors during the trial featured Wang and Bogu Kailai as interlocutors, and Bogu Kailai was telling Wang the details of her poisoning of Heywood.
On Nov. 15, after Heywood was found dead, Wang Lijun instructed Guo Weiguo, then deputy chief of the Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau and a close friend of Bogu Kailai, to handle the case without telling Guo or other policemen that he possessed clues and recorded evidence of Bogu Kailai’s involvement.
Later on, Wang called a vice chief of criminal investigations surnamed Huang away from the crime scene and asked him to leave the case.
“I was so consumed by my selfish ideas then that I didn’t want to handle the case,” Wang said.
The next morning, Guo Weiguo, Li Yang (former chief of the bureau’s crime department, sentenced), Wang Pengfei (former chief of the bureau’s technical detection team and also former chief of the Public Security Sub-bureau of Chongqing’s Yubei district, sentenced), and Wang Zhi (former executive deputy chief of the Public Security Sub-bureau of the municipality’s Shapingba District, sentenced) concluded that Heywood died from an alcohol overdose. Wang did not oppose their conclusion.
On Nov. 17, Wang offered Bogu Kailai a videotape showing her appearance in the hotel, extracted by Guo Weiguo and other policemen from the crime scene.
“Wang told me that it was a security videotape from the hotel that showed that no one visited Heywood after I left his place. He meant to protect me,” Bogu Kailai said in her testimony.
On Nov. 18, Heywood was cremated. That evening, Wang told Bogu Kailai about the cremation during a phone call.
“On the evening of Nov. 18, 2011, Wang Lijun called me and asked Bogu Kailai to listen. After the call, Bogu Kailai said Wang used the phrase ‘becoming smoke and ashes, gone to the west’,” (a euphemism indicating that Heywood had been cremated,) Zhang Xiaojun said in his testimony.
Why did Wang Lijun shy away from his responsibilities and deliberately cover up for Bogu Kailai so that she would not be held legally responsible, even if he knew the truth?
“After coming to Chongqing, I visited Bogu Kailai’s home often, and I thought she treated me quite well. I knew if the case was treated as a homicide, it would be huge. However, to avoid antagonism with Bogu Kailai, I shunned the case,” Wang said.
“To be honest, if not for the involvement of Bogu Kailai, I would have ordered a thorough investigation and found out the truth earlier,” he said.
Prosecutors said the evidence indicates that Wang knew that Bogu Kailai was under serious suspicion of committing intentional homicide, but deliberately covered up for her instead of holding her criminally responsible.
–CAUSE OF CONFLICT
Wang Lijun and Bogu Kailai had close relations, but that did not mean they had no conflicts. Evidence showed that prior to the Nov. 15, 2011 Case, or the death of Neil Heywood, conflicts had arisen between them.
On Aug. 12, 2011, Bogu Kailai’s son, surnamed Bo, wanted to meet Wang Lijun. Wang was in downtown Chongqing but did not want to meet Bo, so Wang asked his driver to tell Bo that he was in Wanzhou District. Bogu Kailai’s son almost had a traffic accident on his way to Wanzhou, making Bogu Kailai very angry with Wang.
After the Nov. 15, 2011 Case, Bogu Kailai, worried about the case being exposed, took a series of actions, including destroying evidence, to ensure that it would not be. Wang was not pleased that Bogu Kailai turned up the heat by allowing an increasing number of people to learn about the incident.
On Dec. 14, 2011, Bogu Kailai held a banquet and invited Li Yang, Wang Pengfei, Wang Zhi and other individuals who took part in the investigation of Neil Heywood’s death and covered up her crime.
Wang Lijun said in his confession that “Guo Weiguo went to Beijing the next day, taking Wang Zhi and Wang Pengfei with him. I scolded Wang Zhi and Wang Pengfei seriously in front of Guo Weiguo. I think the words that I used to scold them have been disseminated back to Chongqing. Since Dec. 14 of last year (2011), Bogu Kailai turned hostile toward me, taking a different attitude from before when contacting me. She was not so warm as before and began to guard herself against me.”
The testimonies of Guo Weiguo, Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi have confirmed the aforementioned details.
At the end of December 2011, four staff members working closely with Wang Lijun were investigated illegally, escalating the conflict between Wang Lijun and Bogu Kailai.
Relevant testimonies from witnesses showed that on Jan. 28, Wang Lijun reported to the then leading official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Chongqing Committee that Bogu Kailai was highly suspected in the Nov. 15, 2011 Case. On the morning of Jan. 29, Wang Lijun was angrily rebuked and slapped in the face by the official.
Guo Weiguo, who was present when Wang Lijun was slapped, said in the interrogation record that “the conflict was made public after Wang Lijun was slapped.”
After the conflict had intensified, Wang Lijun on the same day ordered Li Yang and other individuals to re-obtain testimonies from witnesses, properly protect key material evidence, including the blood extracted from Neil Heywood’s heart, reorganize the evidence and documents regarding Bogu Kailai’s suspicion in murdering Neil Heywood, and provided his secret recording materials. Then, Wang Lijun gave the file to Li Yang and other individuals for transfer and storage.
Wang Zhi said in the interrogation record that on Jan. 29, Wang Lijun asked him, Wang Pengfei and Li Yang to go to his office and rearrange the Nov. 15, 2011 Case file.
“We spent several days making the file. Wang Lijun asked me, Wang Pengfei and Li Yang to keep the file separately and store it in a safe place,” Wang Zhi said.
Wang Zhi added, “I knew Wang Lijun and Bogu Kailai had turned hostile toward each other at that time, otherwise Wang Lijun would not have asked us to rearrange the file. He should have a personal purpose in starting the case.”
— LEAVING WITHOUT PERMISSION
On Feb. 2, 2012, Wang Lijun’s work division as Chongqing’s vice mayor was adjusted and he no longer served concurrently as chief of the municipality’s Public Security Bureau.
Moreover, in early February, three staff members working closely with Wang were put under illegal investigation. Wang felt he was in danger, giving rise to his idea to defect.
On Feb. 6, under the pretext of discussing business, Wang canceled his original work arrangements and entered the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu at 2:31 p.m. without permission.
Relevant organs in Chongqing confirmed that during that time, neither the Chongqing municipal Party committee nor the government needed a vice mayor to go to Chengdu to participate in any official activity. The municipality also did not need or arrange for a vice mayor, including Wang, to go to the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu to engage in foreign trade issues or diplomatic issues.
According to the indictment of the Chengdu People’s Procuratorate, after briefly discussing issues concerning environmental protection, education and science and technology with diplomats inside the U.S. consulate, Wang immediately claimed that his personal security was threatened because of his investigation of criminal cases. He asked the United States to provide shelter for him and filled out an application for political asylum.
Wang left the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu of his own volition at 11:35 p.m. on Feb. 7 through the persuasion and advice of relevant organs of Chongqing Municipality and central authorities. He said he would cooperate with investigations.
— REVEALING THE CASE
After leaving the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, Wang Lijun told relevant state organs that Bogu Kailai was suspected of murdering Neil Heywood and provided relevant evidence and documents that he had accumulated.
Wang sent a letter to Li Yang and asked Li to turn in key material evidence, such as the blood from Heywood’s heart, to police who were reviewing the Neil Heywood case.
Prosecutors said the documents accumulated by the defendant Wang could prove that Bogu Kailai was suspected of murdering Neil Heywood.
After Wang left the U.S. consulate of his own volition, the Ministry of Public Security initiated a lawful review of the Neil Heywood case based on information provided by Wang.
On Aug. 20, 2012, the Hefei City Intermediate People’s Court in east China’s Anhui Province sentenced Bogu Kailai to death with a two-year reprieve for intentional homicide. Zhang Xiaojun, an accessory to the murder, was sentenced to nine years in prison.
MORE CRIMES UNCOVERED
During the investigation of Wang’s case, relevant authorities received a string of reports indicating that Wang was suspected of abusing power and taking bribes. Investigators paid great attention to the reports and collected relevant evidence after legal investigation and evidence-collecting procedures.
According to the indictment, Wang, then chief of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau, violated the country’s laws and regulations by using technical reconnaissance measures on a number of people since 2010, either without the approval of authorities or by forging approval documents. These acts have severely undermined the socialist legal system and infringed citizens’ legitimate rights and interests.
Xinhua learnt from the courtroom the following major facts regarding Wang’s bribe-taking accusation.
In April 2009, when Wang served as the chief of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau, one of Wang’s immediate family members was transferred to a working position in Beijing. Not having a residence in Beijing, the family member of Wang received two apartments in Beijing bought by Xu Ming, board chairman of the Dalian Shide Group Co. Ltd. at a price of 2.85 million yuan (449,583 U.S. dollars). The apartments were registered under the name of Wang’s father-in-law. After the deal, Wang gave his thanks to Xu in person.
In July of the same year, Wang, at the request of Xu, instructed law enforcement departments in Chongqing to release three people, respectively surnamed Pan, Wang and Zhang, who were under detention.
Moreover, Yu Junshi, legal representative of the Dalian Shiyuan Trade Co. Ltd., made two payments totaling 200,000 yuan in September 2008, when Wang Lijun was the executive deputy chief of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau, and in November 2009, when he was Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau chief, to cover the rent for Wang’s villa in Chongqing. In October 2009, Wang, at the request of Yu, ordered law enforcement departments in Chongqing to release a person surnamed Yang who was under detention.
While being investigated, Wang produced important clues that exposed serious offenses committed by others. Such clues played a key role in the investigation of other cases.
At the courtroom, Wang’s defender pleaded for a mitigated punishment for Wang after fully expressing relevant views. The defender said that Wang left the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu by his own will, an act that should be regarded as a termination of defection and thus should result in a mitigated punishment or no punishment. Wang also voluntarily surrendered while being investigated for bending the law for selfish ends, meaning that his crime’s circumstances should be regarded as “serious” instead of “especially serious,” the defender said, requesting that the court fully consider these factors.
The prosecution said Wang’s defection belongs to conduct crime which should be taken as a complete offense as long as it was carried out. The defendant, with premeditation, entered the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu under the pretense of negotiating business and stayed in the consulate to write an application for political asylum. Wang’s behavior constitutes a complete offense.
Wang voluntarily surrendered after defecting and confessed related information about the major facts concerning his defection, such behavior constitutes voluntary surrender, the prosecution said. According to Article 67 of the Criminal Law, there could be lighter or mitigated punishment.
Wang, as the chief of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau, failed to perform his investigation duties regarding the serious crime of intentional homicide, and he played a key role in bending the law for selfish ends. The crime should be regarded as “especially serious,” according to the prosecution.
Wang later ordered his Chongqing police subordinates to collect and preserve evidence regarding the murder case involving Bogu Kailai. He also reported the possible involvement of Bogu Kailai to the authorities, provided evidence and willingly assisted in the reinvestigation of the case. Since Wang played a crucial role in helping public security authorities to crack the case, the penalty for his crime of bending the law for personal gain could be lighter, the prosecution said
Moreover, Wang produced important clues that exposed serious offenses committed by others and played a key part in the investigation of the cases, which could be considered as major meritorious service. According to Article 68 of the Criminal Law, Wang could be given a mitigated punishment, the prosecution said.
Wang’s case has been holding the world’s attention. Investigatory, procuratorial and judicial authorities have taken the facts as the basis and the law as the criterion, and handled the case strictly in accordance with the law in the process of the investigation, prosecution and trials.
During the investigation period, the State Security Bureau of Chengdu in Sichuan, the Hefei City People’s Procuratorate in Anhui Province and the Sichuan Province People’s Procuratorate, respectively, carried out meticulous investigation and interrogation plans, questioning parties involved in the case and many people who knew about the case and collected and verified a huge amount of evidence. They also informed Wang of his right to retain defense counsel.
During the phase for the approval of the arrest and prosecution, the prosecuting body thoroughly and meticulously examined the evidence collected and put together by the investigating body in a timely manner, and provided multiple suggestions for further investigation. The prosecuting body also sent the criminal suspect a letter to inform him of his rights and responsibilities as well as his right to entrust a defense counsel to represent him. The defense counsel entrusted by Wang examined, extracted and copied case files in accordance with the law.
After the defendant was indicted, the Chengdu City Intermediate People’s Court formed a collegial panel, sent duplicates of the indictment to the defendant, publicized the time and location of the trials, sent subpoenas for the trials and notices to attend court to the defendant and his defense counsel, informed them of their litigation rights and safeguarded the defense counsel’s rights to meet Wang and examine, extract and copy case files in accordance with laws.
Before the trials, Wang’s defense counsel met with him 15 times. Wang Yuncai, Wang Lijun’s defender and a lawyer with the Beijing-based Longan Law Firm’s Shenyang Office, said in court that the defense counsel met the defendant many times and examined the case files before the trials.
Gu Mingan, a professor with the Law School of the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics as well as an observer at the trials, said the two sides made full efforts to raise and cross-examine evidence during the trials, and the court scrupulously heard the opinions of the prosecutors as well as the defense counsel, fully reflecting the judicial concept of the equality of the prosecution and the defense, and safeguarded the sanctity of law.
After the trials, Wu Qunfang, a resident from the Taoyuan community in the Chenghua District of Chengdu, said that after the trials they have fully understood the beginning and subsequent development of Wang Lijun’s case.
“We believe that all is equal before the law and expect a fair verdict from the people’s court,” Wu said.