Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Appeals court overturns guilty verdict for Chen Guangcheng

Chengc I posted earlier on the four-year prison sentence handed down to Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) - a peasants' rights activist who blew the whistle on official abuses under China's one-child policy - for allegedly "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic" while under police guard. In a report datelined Oct. 31, 2006, Radio Free Asia says that the Linyi Intermediate-Level People's Court in Shandong province has overturned the guilty verdict and ordered a retrial in the Yinan Basic-Level Court.   

Chen's lawyer is quoted as saying, "From the point of view of the defense, this is the best possible result." I'm not sure why that's so. Wouldn't an outright acquittal have been better? Comments welcome.

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I see this case, along with the new laws on executions, as examples of Beijing trying to assert greater control over China's court system and thereby increase central government control over the provinces.

Posted by: China Law Blog | Oct 31, 2006 11:13:02 PM

This is great news!!! Yes, an outright acquittal would have been better---but perhaps impossible. If the intermediate-level court had acquitted Chen, then the basic-level court would have "lost face" by being too publicly embarrassed. By ordering a retrial, the intermediate-level court has given the basic-level court an opportunity to "save face" by correcting itself. And I hope that it does so immediately.

Posted by: Roy L. Sturgeon | Nov 1, 2006 8:35:00 AM

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