Beijing Court Tries 'Interceptors' Over Black Jail Torture Claims

Chinese police take away an elderly woman for petitioning on Tiananmen Square, Dec. 4, 2013.AFP
A court in the Chinese capital has tried two men for the unlawful detention and injury of a petitioner from the eastern province of Anhui, who says he was tortured inside an unofficial detention center, or "black jail."

Wang Weilong said he was dragged away by the men outside the Supreme People's Court in Beijing after filing a petition in 2012.

He accused one of three men, Xing Di, Zhang Wei and Pang Taifeng, of hitting his head with a bell, and of stabbing him with a burning metal prong, the Beijing News reported.

In an interview with RFA on Thursday, Wang said the trial had taken place at Daxing District People's Court in Beijing on Wednesday, lasting a little more than two hours.

"The hearing lasted more than two hours," Wang said. "However ... they didn't read out an official account of my injuries, and I never saw one. As victims, we have the right to know the level of injuries we are judged to have suffered."

"Also, only Xing Di, Zhang Wei and Pang Taifeng were present, of the people who locked up the petitioners," he said. "There was no one there from behind the scenes."

No verdict or sentencing was announced at the time, Wang added.

Wang told local media that more than a dozen petitioners from other provinces were kept at the black jail during his incarceration there, and has blamed interceptors sent by local governments to muzzle complaints about them in Beijing.

He said his injuries have since prevented him from working.

"There were more than 10 of them in total [who detained us]," Wang said. "There were procedural issues on the part of both the police and the prosecution. They should at least have told us whether our injuries were being considered light or serious."

He added: "If I'm dissatisfied with the decision, then I'll file another lawsuit."

Lenient sentencing

Rights lawyer Chi Susheng said sentencing in similar cases has usually been extremely lenient.

"Previous cases of this kind have resulted in very light sentencing," Chi told RFA. "For example, the mother of Li Ning, who was tortured in a black jail to the extent of not being able to bear living any more, and committed suicide."

"She was covered in injuries, and yet they all got jail terms of less than three years, and then were released," he said.

Beijing-based rights lawyer Liang Xiaojun said the problem of torture inside China's black jails is extremely serious.

"Mostly it's against Falun Gong practitioners and petitioners," Liang said. "There hasn't been much change, in spite of our enormous efforts."

"These black jails, which operate outside the law, are a useful form of social control for the authorities," he said.


Nearly 20,000 grievances are filed daily to complaints offices across China in person, according to official figures released last November, mostly by middle-aged or elderly people with little or no income.

Those who do pursue complaints against the government—often for forced evictions, loss of farmland, accidents, or death and mistreatment in custody—say they are repeatedly stonewalled, detained in "black jails" or "legal study centers," beaten, and harassed by the authorities.

Last week, authorities in the northern province of Hebei sent in hundreds of armed police when an anti-corruption inspection team arrived from Beijing after it was swamped by ordinary people with complaints against alleged government wrong-doing.

The team was one of 13 sent by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to probe official business across the country.

Inspectors were charged with looking for "possible misconduct," including corruption, failure to implement the Party's frugality directives and other policies as well as malpractice in official selection and promotion procedures.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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