Blogger detained for mocking officials wins redress

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 29, 2012
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A Chinese blogger on Friday won a lawsuit seeking redress for his one-year detention for mocking a city's top officials' alleged interference in due judicial procedure in a high-profile anti-crime campaign.

After a two-hour trial, the Chongqing Third Intermediate Court ruled that it was against the law for police to detain Fang Hong, a local forestry department employee, citing a lack of evidence for the administrative punishment.

Fang was sent to a Re-education Through Labor Center, a police-run extra-judicial detention facility, for one year on April 28, 2011, for "inciting social disturbances," according to the police record. He was released on April 24 this year.

Fang said he was apprehended after posting a joke on a microblog criticizing Chongqing's former top official Bo Xilai and former police chief Wang Lijun's meddling in the case against Li Zhuang, a controversial lawyer defending suspects in mafia-related cases in Chongqing's crackdown on organized crime.

"Boqilai makes a dump, and asks Wang Lijun to eat it. Wang passes the dump to prosecutors who forward it to the court. The court passes it again to Li Zhuang. Li's lawyer says he is not hungry and whoever made the dump should eat it," Fang wrote, using "Boqilai," which means "erection," as a play on the name of Bo Xilai.

Fang said the right to free speech is protected by the Constitution and, according to the law, his comments on the microblog should not have landed him in the labor camp.

The court said Fang's comments were indecent, but the act should not be counted as spreading rumors, it did not result in social disturbances and it obviously did not seriously violate national interests in any way.

"Officials should remain calm, open-minded and respectful when facing criticism from the public on their work," the court said.

The court said that it was impossible to revoke the decision because the term had already been served. It then decided that the decision was "illegal." Law experts say the ruling will pave the way for Fang to seek state compensation.

Chongqing launched a massive anti-crime campaign called "Peaceful Chongqing" in 2009, which prioritized fighting local mafia-style gangs. Though Bo and Chongqing's police forces were credited for reducing crime, there have been concerns about abuses of power and the neglect of due process in the campaign.

Bo, who led the campaign, saw his family embroiled in a murder scandal that shocked the nation. Bo's wife, Bo-Gu Kailai, and an orderly at their home were named suspects in the murder of British citizen Neil Heywood in Chongqing in November 2011.

The crime was alleged by Wang who entered the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu without authorization after he was removed from the top police post in early February.

The incident prompted an investigation by central authorities, which announced in April that Bo was suspected of serious disciplinary violations. Bo has been removed from the top post in Chongqing, and his membership in the CPC's Central Committee and its Political Bureau have been suspended.

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