Beijing Starts Inquiry into Chongqing Crackdown

By Wong, Edward | International Herald Tribune, May 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

Beijing Starts Inquiry into Chongqing Crackdown


Wong, Edward, International Herald Tribune


After the ouster of Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing Communist Party chief, some have begun speaking publicly about being tortured and denied their legal rights, allegations that are now being investigated.

Police officers in this western metropolis are being investigated over whether they used torture and other questionable methods to obtain evidence during a so-called anti-crime campaign overseen in recent years by Bo Xilai, a deposed Chinese leader, according to a person in Chongqing who has ties to police officials and a lawyer in Beijing.

The review of police methods used during the campaign was announced by at a meeting on April 25 by Liu Guanglei, a top Chongqing party official. Mr. Liu, in charge of the politics and law committee, told a gathering of mid- and senior-level police officials that any officer who had tortured suspects during Mr. Bo's campaign should admit to doing so.

If an officer is found later to have committed torture but not been forthcoming about it, then the officer would be severely punished, Mr. Liu said, according to the person with police ties, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the scandal over Mr. Bo, the former head of the Communist Party in Chongqing.

Mr. Bo's campaign, called "smash the black," was introduced in June 2009 to great fanfare and carried out by Wang Lijun, a police officer from northeastern China whom Mr. Bo had installed as the police chief in Chongqing after he took office as party secretary in late 2007. Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang said the campaign was an attempt to destroy criminal gangs in Chongqing, but critics and some people convicted of crimes during that time say the campaign was merely a cover to tear down Mr. Bo's enemies or those of his allies.

Many political analysts say the campaign was one of several highly visible populist policies that Mr. Bo was pushing to try to win political support to elevate himself to the Politburo Standing Committee, the group at the top of the Communist Party that rules China by consensus. Mr. Bo was removed from his party chief post in Chongqing in March and suspended as one of the 25 members of the Politburo in April after it was announced that he was being investigated for "serious disciplinary violations." These actions followed the flight of Mr. Wang, the police chief, to a U.S. Consulate in February to present what he said was evidence of a murder plot by Mr. Bo's wife.

With Mr. Bo's purge, some victims of the "smash the black" campaign, or "da hei" in Chinese, have begun speaking publicly about how they were tortured, denied their legal rights and forced to endure horrendous prison conditions.

At the same meeting, the new police chief, He Ting, promised to raise the salaries and benefits of police officers, he said. Morale in the police force had fallen under Mr. Wang, who was known to be a demanding leader.

Mr. Liu had served as the police chief before Mr. Bo replaced him with Mr. Wang. Mr. Liu is an ally of Hu Jintao, the president of China, and was said to be one victim of a widespread wiretapping campaign run by Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang.

The investigation into methods used by the police during the "da hei" campaign could be the first step in a wider review of the cases by Chongqing courts. …

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