April 27, 2017
Little more than an hour after the opening of a retrial against Wilson Wang, two women burst out of the courthouse at the Wuhu City Jinghu District People’s Court.
“The court beats people! Come and see, everyone!” they shouted in front of a small crowd that gathered. Ambulances arrived and, soon, attendants emerged from the courthouse carrying Mr. Wang’s wife, Jean Zou. She is a Chinese-born Canadian whose fight for her husband’s release has attracted Ottawa’s attention and cast new light on abuses in the Chinese justice system.
“I passed out in the trial,” she said from the back of an ambulance. “My husband fell down and I was worried.” Meanwhile, back inside, Mr. Wang had vanished. He fainted, his family said, as he tried to protest his treatment in court. Then he was spirited away and the courtroom was empty, except for his legal team. They waited an hour. “Nothing was really happening,” said Gan Weidong, one of the lawyers. “So we decided to leave.”
It was a moment of baffling legal drama this week in a little-known Chinese city. But it has opened a remarkable window into the prosecution of justice in a country that has claimed great progress in advancing the rule of law, but whose legal system regularly twists suspects and their defenders into Kafkaesque contortions as it maintains a 99.92-per-cent conviction rate.