22 April 2009

Update: Review Underway in Wu Baoquan's Case

The Ordos Intermediate People's Court's rejection on April 17 of Wu Baoquan's appeal against his conviction on defamation charges is, technically speaking, a "final decision." This means that Wu has no automatic right under the criminal procedure law to appeal further. His only options are to have the case reopened are to petition a higher court to reopen the case or to have a court review the case as part of the process of "judicial supervision."

Well, according to this report from today's Southern Metropolis News, the Ordos Intermediate People's Court has decided to initiate "judicial supervision" of the case, which means that another retrial is likely and there is a possibility that the case will get thrown out.

At issue, most likely, will be the key question of whether the defamation charge was applied properly. According to the criminal code, prosecution for defamation is intended to be initiated by charges brought directly to the court by the aggrieved party. Only when there is serious threat to social stability or national interest should the police and procuratorate be involved. This is partly what led the police to drop charges against Wang Shuai, so I wouldn't be surprised to see this factor into a new decision in Wu's case as well.

Incidentally, this report reveals the official reason why Wu's sentence was extended by a year in the second trial. Apparently he had been in contact with petitioners while released on bail awaiting the verdict, and the court took this as insufficiently remorseful behavior.

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