China: Gu Trial Shows Progress, Jury Need–Analysis


  1. Juries by voire dire
  2. Meaningful adversarial system
  3. Non-punitive approach


…few will be convinced that politics haven’t played a role, said Beijing-based legal analyst Randy Peerenboom.

“The whole thing is already too compromised and dominated by politics to persuade anybody,” said Peerenboom, who has written books about China and the rule of law. “I don’t think there are many people who think this is going to be handled fully in accordance with all of the legal stipulations in criminal procedure without political intervention.”

The political context of the case and the manner in which court proceedings are conducted in China all point to a predetermined guilty verdict, say Peerenboom, an associate fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and Donald Clarke, a law professor at George Washington University.

Death Sentence

“We shouldn’t be expecting any Perry Mason-like surprises at the trial,” said Clarke, referring to the fictional defense attorney created by author Erle Stanley Gardner. “The system isn’t designed for the discovery of truth at the trial stage. Any chance she had of showing her innocence should have happened before the trial.” Clarke said he expected Gu would be given a suspended death sentence.

The spokesman’s office of the Supreme People’s Court didn’t respond to a voicemail and a faxed request for comment. The Hefei Intermediate People’s Court didn’t reply to a request sent by e-mail.

The trial is the culmination of a drama that began in February when the former police chief of Chongqing fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu with evidence implicating Gu in Heywood’s murder, according to U.S. officials briefed on the matter. The diplomatic furor sparked by the incident presaged Bo’s ouster as Chongqing party chief in March and China’s biggest political scandal in decades.

Gang of Four

For the wife of a Politburo member to be tried for murdering a foreigner is unparalleled in Chinese history, said Minxin Pei, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California. Only the prosecution of Jiang Qing, Gang of Four leader and the last wife of former leader Mao Zedong, has any similarities, he said.

The trial is likely to be swift. Gu’s hearing won’t last more than two days and could be wrapped up in half a day, said Lv Guoyu, a Beijing-based lawyer who represented Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. (493) founder Huang Guangyu in his appeal against his insider trading conviction in 2010.

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