Saturday, 13 March 2010

Verdict soon on Wen Qiang but penalty unlikely to be maximum

The fate of Wen Qiang, the biggest catch in Chongqing’s crackdown on organised crime, may be known as soon as the end of this month, and if convicted, he is unlikely to get the maximum penalty, the city’s justice chief said.

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Guanyu 道 said...

Verdict soon on Wen Qiang but penalty unlikely to be maximum

Zhuang Pinghui
12 March 2010

The fate of Wen Qiang, the biggest catch in Chongqing’s crackdown on organised crime, may be known as soon as the end of this month, and if convicted, he is unlikely to get the maximum penalty, the city’s justice chief said.

Liu Guanglei, the secretary of the municipality’s Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs, told the Beijing Times that Wen’s case was still under review by the court and the verdict would be delivered by late this month or early next.

Wen, a former Justice Department director, was tried last month on charges of links to gangsters, rapes and taking bribes. The delay in the verdict, which was widely reported to come soon after the Lunar New Year, had given rise to speculation that bigger political forces were at play.

But Liu said the long wait was for the court to “clarify the details”. He also hinted that Wen was unlikely to get the maximum penalty.

Wen, 54, was the highest-ranking official among 87 Chongqing officials accused of corruption and giving protection to organised crime. News reports have gripped the nation with lurid details of sex and violence.

At least nine people have been sentenced to death, including triad bosses and a police officer.

Wen’s right-hand man, Peng Changjian, a former deputy chief of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau and the second-highest official involved in the mafia crackdown, was sentenced to life in prison last month for corruption, possessing assets that could not be accounted for and conspiring with organised crime syndicates.

Peng was accused of using his position to accept 4.71 million yuan (HK$5.35 million) in bribes from 18 people, including 300,000 yuan from two police officers seeking promotion.

Wen himself was accused of accepting more than 16 million yuan in bribes, protecting crime rings and four counts of rape. He reportedly shielded businesses in numerous sectors such as property, transport, gambling and prostitution, as well as a loan racket worth 30 billion yuan.

He had also confessed to affairs with his female subordinates, as well as trysts with starlets, some of whom he allegedly raped. But he disputed certain details of the charges related to the alleged bribe-taking and had pleaded not guilty to protecting crime rings.

Chongqing, with a population of 30 million people, was so plagued by organised crime for years that new Communist Party chief Bo Xilai launched a massive crackdown in June.

Since the crackdown, hundreds of people, besides the 87 officials, have been charged and more than 3,300 people detained.

Also, the city has begun requiring officials in the judicial system to declare their personal assets after several high-profile cadres were punished for corruption.