'I Don't Think My Father Will Get Off Lightly'

2017-10-12
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Liu Minjie (R) and others protest death sentences in Beijing, in an undated photo.
Liu Minjie (R) and others protest death sentences in Beijing, in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Boxun

A man who petitioned for 11 years over a court decision in his son's murder now faces a heavy jail term for pursuing a long-running complaint against the Chinese government, RFA has learned.

Liu Minjie, who hails from the northern province of Hebei, began pursuing a complaint after the Supreme People's Court in Beijing commuted a death penalty handed to his son's murderer to a suspended death sentence.

Liu, now 56, has spent the intervening years appealing the decision, in a bid to win justice for his son from his hometown of Dingzhou.

But now he has been detained on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," and could face a lengthy jail term for his pains, his daughter Liu Xia told RFA.

"My father has been charged with picking quarrels and stirring up trouble, which carries a penalty of [up to] five years' imprisonment," Liu Xia, who happens to share a name with the wife of late Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, said.

Fellow petitioner Cai Zhiguo, a friend of Liu's, said the case dates back to a murder that took place in Urumqi, regional capital of Xinjiang.

"When the Supreme Court came to review the death penalty, they didn't hold a public hearing."

"They found errors in the material facts of the case, and changed the verdict, which meant that the main suspect, Du Peng, didn't get the punishment he deserved," Cai said.

"Liu Minjie thought that this was because the deputy provincial governor of Hebei, Liu Jiansheng, and Du Peng, were very close friends."

"After that, the deputy head of the Hebei High People's Court, Jing Hanchao, was promoted to the Supreme People's Court, and he was protecting Du Peng," Cai said. "So there was a channel established."

The Supreme Court must review any cases in which the death penalty is handed down, in a bid to halt miscarriages of justice and limit the use of the ultimate penalty to the most serious crimes, according to recent government policy.

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Liu Xia displays a photo of her father at her home in Hebei's Dingzhou city, in an undated photo. Credit: Liu Xia
Deliberately targeted

Liu Xia said the authorities had deliberately targeted her father over his petitioning attempts.

"Back in August, the Dingzhou police, and a vehicle owned by the Intermediate People's Court in [nearby] Baoding were waiting for my father outside the complaints office of the Supreme Court," Liu Xia said. "My dad probably spotted the car and tried to escape."

"He didn't leave home for about a month, but when he did finally go [to Beijing again], he was detained by court police from the Supreme Court ... and he was brought back to Dingzhou," she said.

"The only evidence they could produce was that my father frequently went to the complaints window of the Supreme People's Court to express his sense of injustice," Liu Xia said. "I think they are just framing him on purpose."

She said she expects a heavy sentence amid a nationwide "stability maintenance" crackdown ahead of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's five-yearly congress on Oct. 18.

"I don't think he'll get off lightly with the 19th Party Congress about to open," she said.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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