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Lawyer faces court in gang crackdown

A LAWYER who defended a suspected mob boss stood trial today in Chongqing Municipality for allegedly advising his client to lie in court to gain lighter punishment.

Li Zhuang, representing Gong Gangmo, a suspected mob master in Chongqing, was reported to have promised him lighter punishment if he lied about his confession.

Li's lawyer Gao Zicheng, who represented Shanghai's former Party chief Chen Liangyu in his corruption case, said Li will plead not guilty. The trial is expected to last eight days, reported Southern Metropolis Daily today.

All eight witnesses, including Li's client Gong who reported the matter to police, will not appear at the trial because they refused to testify in court, Gao told the newspaper.

Gao said it was strange that the court rushed the case into trial only one day after the prosecutors filed suit. He said it left him little time to conduct his client's defense.

Chen Jiuhong, vice head of Chongqing Jiangbei District Prosecutors, told China Youth Daily that there was no material evidence that Li advised his client to lie. The arrest was based on Gong's testimony, he said.

Gong told China Central Television that he "sensed" that Li Zhuang was telling him to lie about being tortured into confession as he was "blinking at him" during their meeting. Gao said blinking was hardly concrete evidence against Li.

Li's arrest attracted controversy as he was the first lawyer to be brought down in Chongqing's crackdown on criminal rings. His case also raised concerns of judicial independence in the massive campaign.


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