Behind the Li Gang Case:
- Part 1: Chen Family Forced to Drop Suit
- Part 2: Family Goes Silent, Legal Rumblings (this post)
- Part 3: “A Sleepless Night in Xiaofeng’s Home”
This is Part 2 of our translation of Wang Keqin’s investigation into the Li Gang case, Part 1 is here. If you’re not familiar with the people or the case, I’d highly recommend that you read the Wikipedia article to start with, and then Part 1 before reading this post.
Note: The terms “reconcile”, “reconciliation”, “civil compensation” and “civil reconciliation” are all references to the kind of agreement the Chen family signed, a legal recourse in Chinese civil courts under which both sides can voluntarily agree to a financial settlement without going through a civil trial (this seems to be the same as settling out of court in the US legal system, but I am not a legal expert in either country so don’t take my word for it).
Missing-voice-gate: The Compensation Hadn’t Arrived Yet
The Chens told Feng Jun repeatedly that they had been heavily pressured, and were forced into doing many things. It was demanded that they not speak to reporters, give news of the deal or reveal information about the “reconciliation” with Li, or else they wouldn’t receive any of the 460,000 RMB.
On November 11th, they still hadn’t received the money. “The village government just kept putting it off, saying that they would give it to us tomorrow.” Because of that, what they Chen family was most worried about was not getting the compensation. “This is complicated, hard to talk about, and talking about it doesn’t help us,” Chen Guangqian told Feng Jun
Additionally, Chen Xiaofeng’s uncle Chen Yumao worked as a Xinji city auditor; the county leaders spoke to him multiple times and there was heavy pressure suggesting that “if the Chens don’t agree to compensation he will be fired.”
Chen Lin was always the one in the family most opposed to settling, and was the one who was actively communicating with their lawyer and with reporters. On the day the compensation agreement was side, he was put off to the side, and his cell phone was confiscated by his uncle, cutting him off from the outside world.
“Too sudden, it was all too sudden” [he said,] “Now I don’t have any communication tools. I only know the basics, and my family won’t let me tell you, won’t let me get on the microblog and send out messages.”
“There was never a place for me in [the negotiation]. Even my mom didn’t know, she was just suddenly forced to check out of the hospital. During the whole process, my family were [treated] like outsiders,” Chen Lin said, furrowing his brow tightly.
Under immense pressure, the Chen family finally chose to lose their voice, turning off all forms of communication with the outside world. [Their attitude was:] “Just get it over with,” hoping to get the 460,000 RMB “and go back to living a regular life.”
“I feel we let down our lawyer Zhang Kai, but we were under such pressure, there was nothing we could do. Now I’m letting Chen Lin go to Beijing to explain it to him,” Chen Guangqian told Feng Jun.
Additionally, Chen Lin revealed that a netizen from Tangshan who worked in Hebei and had planned to go to Baoding with friends to show support for the Chen family suddenly became the target of an out-of-jurisdiction investigation by the Tangshan police. [He returned to his housing to find that] his computer was moved, QQ chat records were copied; the next day he was called into the police station for a talk.
When asked how he was feeling now, Chen Lin said that the answer involved too many things. [As for the part of his feelings that] involved the government, [he said] the deal for compensation was made because the government intervened, and that [if his current] attitude persisted he would be anti-government.
He said that in the past, he’d been thinking about his sister, and wanting a just and fair result. But now he said he was thinking more about his parents, hoping they could get the 460,000 RMB quickly so the family could return to peace and quiet.
“I don’t care what the outside world thinks, anyway, this is just the way I think now,” Chen Lin said.
On November 12th, 100 [Chinese] students studying abroad signed a letter to Premier Wen Jiabao: “We love our motherland. To ensure Chen Xiaofeng’s tragedy is never played out again, to ensure a fair and just result [of the trial], to our personal safety, rights, and dignity, we are uniting and making our voices heard. We call for justice and conscience, we call on the Chinese central government and our enlightened leaders to do their duty; we call to all students at home and abroad to unite and sign this letter, asking the government to severely punish Li Gang and son in accordance with the law, and to give Xiaofeng, us, and our entire generation a just and safe environment in which to grow up!”
Police: Li Qiming will definitely be punished.
On December 21st, the Baoding, Hebei police spokesperson said that this case was one in which the [state] organs of prosecution needed to [formally] file a criminal case, and that a “reconciliation” was not a possible conclusion to the case. At present, the suspect Li Qiming is detained in jail, and the case has already been turned over to the prosecution and the case is being tried.
But the police also confirmed that on November 5, the suspect Li Qiming’s representative had reached and compensation agreement with the victim Chen Xiaofeng’s family in the civil case, and that the agreement had been executed on-schedule. By law, the civil part of the case can be resolved if both parties voluntarily agree to “reconcile” or can come to an agreement through a mediator, but the criminal part of the case is still being tried, and the suspect Li Qiming must be given a legal punishment. ((Here, there is a quotation mark in the original Chinese, indicating that at least this last sentence is a direct quote from the police spokesperson. But since Wang Keqin appears to have forgotten to type the opening quotation mark, it’s difficult to say for sure what is a direct quotation and what is Wang’s own wording in summary of the spokesperson’s remarks.))
As yet, the case has not begun open court hearings. As to the pressure put on the Chens to agree to “civil reconciliation”, some media commented: “If the victim’s family agreed to the compensation completely voluntarily, it doesn’t matter how unfair the deal seems to outsiders. But even if the terms of an agreement are very generous, if the agreement to reconcile wasn’t totally voluntary and was instead that under pressure, one side was “volunteered”, then the agreement is no longer a private matter and should be judged by the public.
Additionally, I know that the other student injured in the “car race incident at Hebei University, Zhang Jingjing, checked out of the hospital on December 8, and is already back at school. [Her mother is there taking care of her]. The troublemaker’s father Li Gang has never spoken with Zhang Jingjing’s family about “civil compensation”.
The Court System: Can there be justice?
After the civil case was “reconciled”, what people became most concerned with was Li Gang’s son, and whether he would receive an impartial court decision.
A legal ruling [should be] founded on two concepts: basing the foundation [of a case] in fact, and using the laws as the standard for deciding on a ruling.
First, as for the law, is this a case of endangering the public safety or is it a traffic accident? People have been paying close attention to this question, and at present it is beginning to appear it has been classified as the latter.
As for the facts, the first factual data received by the Wangdu County prosecution was provided by the Baoding police. And the first responders to the scene, the collectors and inspectors of all the facts related to this case, were Baoding police [here, Wang notes the specific types of police that were there.] Strictly speaking, then, the first people on the scene work in Li Gang’s department.
Additionally, it was a student who first checked the VW’s 冀FWE420 plate and discovered it was owned by Li Qiming, but several days later, a Baoding police investigative report showed the car as being owned by Wang Jiangwei, No. 6 Group 2 Zannan Village, Zangang township, Xiong county, Baoding city.
Aside from that, when Li Qiming was attempting to flee and being blocked, he was blocked and remained inside the car for five minutes. Pictures taken by students there show that there was a phone in his hand, and that the phone’s screen was bright.
Part 3 of our translation will tackle the final segment of Wang Keqin’s blog post, an essay by Feng Jun called “A Sleepless Night in Xiaofeng’s Home”.