Show Trials

09.24.12

China's Well-Greased Kangaroo Courts

The Financial Times's Jamil Anderlini describes today's sentencing of Wang Lijun, a former Chinese Communist party insider now immersed in a web of intrigue, as "a hasty process that had all the trappings of a show trial."

Wang, a flamboyant fantasist who bragged about killing criminal suspects and claimed to have talked his way out of execution by the Italian mafia, was portrayed at his trial as a relatively clean public servant who had just made bad choices. To most Chinese legal analysts, the circumstances and sentences in the Gu and Wang trials make clear that the entire process is part of a political show that will culminate in the carefully scripted eventual sentencing of Mr Bo himself.

“The leadership are in the midst of a political faction fight. The entire legitimacy of the system is crumbling,” says Pu Zhiqiang, a high-profile legal activist who regularly defends political prisoners in China. “I would call these trials a cover-up of the truth, rather than trials based on the facts.”