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February 3, 2010

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Mob-boss lawyer pleads guilty

THE former attorney of a suspected mob boss yesterday opened his second trial by pleading guilty to perjury, a dramatic turn in a case that has sparked wide controversy.

Li Zhuang, who represented Gong Gangmo, an alleged mob master in Chongqing Municipality, pleaded guilty to falsifying evidence and obstructing testimony shortly after the trial began, when he was asked to state his reason for appealing the original sentence.

Surprising even his lawyers, Li raised no new reasons for his appeal.

The trial resumed after prosecutors insisted it continue.

The detained lawyer was sentenced on January 8 to two and a half years in jail.

All eight witnesses, including Li's client Gong, failed to testify in court.

Li shouted after the first sentence that he expected no justice in appeals courts.

His lawyer, Gao Zicheng, said he filed the "desperate and hopeless appeal" because Li's family begged him to.

Gao said Li's new confession could not change the fact that the prosecutors lacked the evidence to prove Li's perjury.

Gong appeared in the courtroom yesterday. Yet when Gao asked him about a scar in his wrist and many other details of the case, Gong said he had "no memory of it at all," or he could "not understand the question," according to Caijing Magazine.

Gao said the most important question in the case is how Li could have tried to persuade a detained suspect to commit perjury while the Chongqing police watched and videotaped every minute of their meeting.

Gong said in an interview with China Central Television that he sensed Li telling him to lie about being tortured to induce a confession, because Li was "winking at him" during their meetings.

Gao said he would continue to ask the court to show the video clips, according to Southern Metropolis Daily.

In the first trial, Li requested a third-party medical test on Gong to determine whether he had been tortured by police.

The request was denied, after police answered with an announcement that Gong was perfectly healthy.


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