Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai rights defense lawyer Zheng Enchong and a group of displaced residents of Shanghai’s Dongbakuai neighborhood were prevented from applying for permission to attend the upcoming trial of Shanghai property tycoon Zhou Zhengyi (known in Hong Kong as Chau Ching-ngai). Zheng Enchong was beaten by police on his way to the Shanghai Municipal Higher People’s Court, while others who managed to reach the court were turned away by security guards and court police.
Sources in China told HRIC that Zheng Enchong and his wife, Jiang Meili, left their home at approximately 7:30 on the morning of July 24 intending to go to the Shanghai Municipal Higher People’s Court to register to attend Zhou Zhengyi’s trial, scheduled for later this month. However, they were surrounded by six police officers named Tang Wei, Wu Yanan, Qian Guoqiang, Wang Zhenlin, Li Wei and Feng Jianping. Tang and Wu, along with the other officers, reportedly knocked Zheng Enchong to the ground, beat him and dragged him nearly 200 meters in an hour-long assault that was witnessed by hundreds of neighboring residents. Zheng reportedly sustained serious abrasions to his left hand during the struggle. The police officers then reportedly pushed Zheng and Jiang Meili into a cab that took them to the home of Jiang Meili’s older sister, Jiang Zhongli, on Baochang Road. At latest report, five police cars and more than 30 police officers were allegedly blocking the exits of the street, keeping the home of Jiang Zhongli under close surveillance and preventing the couple from leaving.
In the meantime, more than 50 displaced residents of the Dongbakuai neighborhood, including Wei Qin, Shi Lin, Shen Peilan and Wang Liqing, arrived at the Shanghai Municipal Higher People’s Court at approximately 9 a.m. to register to attend the trial, but they were prevented from entering the court building by security guards and court police.
In 2004, Zhou Zhengyi, former president of Shanghai-based property firm Nongkai Development Group, was sentenced to three years in prison for various crimes, including accounting fraud and stock price manipulation. He was released in May 2006 upon completion of his prison term (which included time served pre-trial), but soon after that, a corruption scandal erupted in Shanghai, resulting in the dismissal of Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Liangyu and a raft of other officials in September 2006. Zhou Zhengyi was detained again on new allegations and formally arrested on charges of bribery and forging tax invoices January 21, 2007.
As reported by HRIC on July 17, Zheng Enchong and 100 evicted householders had signed a petition demanding a public trial for Zhou Zhengyi and for the evictees to be allowed to attend and testify at the trial. They have received no reply to date. The petition argued: “A public trial must accept the monitoring of citizens, so that light sentences cannot once again be applied to serious crimes. It also prevents corrupt officials from escaping the judgment of the law, and decisions concealed behind closed doors.”
Human Rights in China deplores the use of force against Zheng Enchong and urges the authorities to respect the freedom of movement of Zheng and his wife, Jiang Meili, who have been subjected to constant harassment since Zheng was released from prison in June 2006. HRIC also regrets that displaced residents were prevented from registering to attend Zhou Zhengyi’s trial. A public trial will provide transparency to the process and demonstrate commitment to eliminating all vestiges of corruption within the system, while actively protecting the property and personal rights of those displaced by Shanghai’s rapid redevelopment.
For previous HRIC reporting on Zheng Enchong and the impacts of redevelopment in Shanghai, see:
“Zheng Enchong and 100 Displaced Residents Demand Public Trial for Zhou Zhengyi,” July 17, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/44286.
“House Arrest of Zheng Enchong, Mass Detention of Petitioners for Party Congress,” October 16, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/31085.
“Shanghai Residents File Formal Complaint Suggesting Official Collusion in Zhou Zhengyi Fraud,” August 30, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/30465.
“Zheng Enchong Detained Again,” July 12, 2006, http://iso.hrichina.org/public/contents/29514.
“Shanghai Lawyer Zheng Enchong Under De Facto House Arrest,” June 28, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/29431.
“Zheng Enchong Released Amidst Crackdown on Petitioners,” June 5, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/29175.
“Special Procedures Imposed on Zheng Enchong’s Release from Prison,” June 1, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/28063.
“Imprisoned Lawyer Zheng Enchong Receives Human Rights Award from German Judges,” December 8, 2005, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/26317.
“Prisoner Profile: Zheng Enchong,” CRF No. 4, 2003, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/9993.