China's Highest Court Must Overturn Death Sentence Based on Confession Extracted by Torture

(ChineseHuman Rights Defenders- August 3, 2010)Last week, following the transfer of Fan Qihang’s (樊奇杭)case to the Supreme People’s Court fora review of his death sentence, Zhu Mingyong (朱明勇),lawyer for the alleged Chongqing mobboss, made public secretrecordings in which Fan describes being subjected to months oftorture atthe hands of police. CHRD urges the Supreme People’s Court to overturnthedeath sentence against Fan, which was handed down solely on the basisof aconfession extracted through torture.“IfChinese officials wish to demonstrate that thenew rules barring the use of evidence obtained through torture incriminaltrials amount to more than empty words, this case is a critical test,”saidRenee Xia, CHRD’s International Director. “Judging from the evidencewhich ZhuMingyong bravely provided, Fan Qihang’s case is a textbook example ofthe typeof abuse which these new guidelines are designed to address.”[1]In February 2010, Fan Qihang was convicted of “organizing,leading and participating in triads,” murder, and other charges andsentencedto death. He was originally taken into custody on June 26, 2009 as partof asweeping crackdown on organized crime orchestrated by Chongqing PartysecretaryBo Xilai (薄熙来).However,instead of being held at a detention center during the policeinvestigation, Fan was taken to an unofficial facility run by thepolice in Tieshanping,located on a mountainside in the suburbs of Chongqing. Accordingto Fan, during the nearly five or sixmonths he was held at Tieshanping, he was subjected to numerous formsoftorture. Chongqing police shackled his hands behind his back and hunghim byhis wrists from an iron window grille for as long as five days and fivenightsat a time, with the handcuffs cutting deeply into his wrists. Policealso forcedhim to stand in a bent position, with his hands cuffed behind his backand thenattached to his leg irons, for as long as 10 days at a time. Duringthis periodof torture, Fan attempted to kill himself by biting his tongue andtwice hittinghis head against a wall. He sustained injuries to his head whichrequiredhospitalization.Fanstates that police either deprived him of sleepor disrupted his sleep for the duration of his detention atTieshanping.According to Fan, at a certain point he became completely disoriented,and lostthe ability to recognize people or determine where he was. He was alsobeatenand kicked frequently.Itwas under the extreme duress resulting from theseforms of torture that Fan was forced to “confess” to having incitedothers tothe murder of Li Minghang (李明航),analleged drug dealer, as well as to other crimes attributed to him. LawyerZhu gained access to his client only after hehad been transferred from Tieshanping to a regular detention centre, ata pointwhen the case no longer fell under the responsibility of the police. Itwasthen that Zhu made video recordings of Fan’s accounts of his torture,andcollected photographic evidence of the scars left as a result. Accordingto Zhu, during their trials Fan and manyof his 33 co-defendants repeatedly complained that they were tortured.However,the judges presiding over the trials failed to investigate theseallegations orexclude statements extracted through torture from the proceedings. Inmid-July,Zhu submitted the secret recordings and pictures documenting Fan’storture tothe Supreme People’s Court, but has yet to receive any response.CHRDurgesthe Supreme People’s Court to overturn the death penalty against FanQihang.We believe that Fan’s lawyer has provided enoughevidence to substantiate the allegation that Fan has been subjected totorture,which violates Chinese law as well as the Convention against Tortureand otherCruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Chinaratified in1988, and that his conviction is based on a confession extractedthroughtorture. CHRD calls on the government to implement its newly-releasedRulesConcerning Questions about Exclusion of Illegal Evidence in HandlingCriminalCases, which state that evidence obtained through illegal means such astorturemust be excluded from criminal proceedings.CHRDcalls on the Chinese government tohold the individuals responsible for torturing Fan Qihang legallyaccountablefor their actions. Furthermore,we continue to demand thatthe Chinese government take concrete steps to address the widespreadproblem oftorture in detention facilities and act to ensure the safety of allindividualstaken into police custody. CHRDcalls on the UN Special Rapporteuron Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment orPunishment, the SpecialRapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, theCommitteeagainst Torture, as well as the EU, US, and other governments to takeurgentaction regarding Fan Qihang’s case.  Ifthe Chinese Supreme People’s Court fails tooverturn the death sentence, Fan’s execution could take placeimmediately.BackgroundAspart of Chongqing Party secretary Bo Xilai’s crackdownon organized crime in the municipality, Fan was put on trial fortriad-relatedcrimes as part of a 34-person group. The trials attracted nationalattentionnot only because the Chongqing crackdown was one of the mosthigh-profileanti-organized crime actions in China in recent years, but also becauseof themany irregularities associated with the trials. Many of Fan’sco-defendants,including alleged gang boss Gong Gangmo (龚刚模),stated that they were tortured duringinterrogation by police officers. Gong later accused his lawyer, LiZhuang (李庄),ofinstructing him to lie in court that he was tortured. Li was laterfound guiltyof "fabricating evidence and obstructing testimony" and sentenced himto two years and six months in prison on January 8, 2010.MediaContactsReneeXia, International Director (English andMandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286WangSonglian, Research Coordinator (English andMandarin), +852 8191 1660   Formore information and background, pleasesee:HeYang, “Interview with Lawyer Zhu Mingyong:Cracking down on Triads (朱明勇律师专访—黑打),”July29, 2010, ZhuMingyong, “Defending Fan Qihang during Review ofHis Death Penalty: Multimedia Material (樊奇杭死刑复核辩护多媒体材料),”July 29, 2010, PartI:; Part II: andPart III: CHRD,“PersistentTorture,Unaccountable Torturers: A Report on China’s Implementation of theConvention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or DegradingTreatment orPunishment,” November 5, 2008.

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