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August 6, 2013

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Judge in prostitute scandal said to own 4 apartments

One of the Shanghai judges under investigation over allegations they sought the services of prostitutes together owns four apartments in the city, a whistleblower told the Beijing-based Legal Evening News yesterday.

He claimed this was beyond the means of a judge’s salary.

Zhao Minghua, 47, vice president of the Shanghai Higher People’s Court’s No. 1 civil court, was suspended from his post on Sunday over the prostitution allegations.

The whistleblower, surnamed Ni, told the Legal Evening News that Zhao had two old apartments that are rented out and two newer apartments where he and his in-laws stayed.

Ni said Zhao bought two apartments on Siping Road without loans in 2005. Ni estimated their value at more than 7 million yuan (US$1.14 million). He told the newspaper he wondered how Zhao could afford the purchases as his wife didn’t work and there was no family business.

The newspaper said people in the neighborhood confirmed to its reporter that Zhao lived in an 18th floor apartment in the community.

Ni began tracking Zhao after losing a civil case. He believed Zhao had manipulated the verdict because the man suing him and his lawyer were Zhao’s relatives.

Ni had invested in a Home Inn budget hotel at 775 Yanchang Road M. in Zhabei District and was in dispute over a construction project. After losing the case, Ni was forced to sell his Shanghai apartment in July last year to pay his debts.

Over the following year he tracked Zhao to try to find any evidence of misconduct.

On June 9 this year, he discovered that four judges and a lawyer were seeking prostitution services at the Hengshan Resort hotel in Pudong. By claiming he had lost items in the hotel he gained access to surveillance video which he copied, edited and uploaded online. Ni claimed it revealed evidence of wrongdoing. He said he used various tools, such as a cellphone, an iPad and a pair of “secret filming glasses” to copy the footage.

The report said Ni also suspected three other judges of interfering with his case. He named them as Tang Zhuoqing, vice president of the Zhabei District People’s Court, and Zhu Yixin and Liao Weijun, president and vice president of the court’s No. 3 civil court.

Ni said Zhu was the chief judge in his case while the signature of the chief judge on the ruling was Liao’s. Ni said that when he had pointed this out to Tang he was ignored.

The other three officials involved in the Hengshan Resort scandal have also been suspended while an investigation is carried out. One was named as Chen Xueming, president of the No. 1 civil court while the two others remain unnamed.

The newspaper said that Ni hoped the investigation could lead to the verdict in his civil case being reversed. “As long as there is misconduct, it will be found out,” Ni said.



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