China: Handling of Yang Jia's secret trial breeds widespread discontent

The fallout from the closed trial given to Yang Jia after he murdered six Shanghai policemen in July continues to bear down on the blogosphere as one of the most discussed topics.

Discussion has been intense and reactions to the verdict have varied; at least one YouTuber took it upon themselves to interview Shanghai residents on their thoughts on the trial and verdict:

Reads the introduction to the video:

“法律已经不是人民的法律,对杨佳的审判简直就是对中国人民的侮辱 !!!!”

“The law isn't even for the people anymore, and Yang Jia's sentence is simply insulting to the people of China!!!!”

For establishment artist and Olympic venue designer Ai Weiwei on his Sina blog, posting videos which have since been deleted of the crowd assembled outside of the Shanghai #2 Intermediate People's Court on the day of Yang's trial just prior and after the trial was held, after having having applied to attend it himself and then denied, were all decisions made after having written a post [zh] calling on his readers to take action in support not just of Yang, but for rule of law in China itself:



Too much gratuitous rage and violent language, followed by too much distrust, giving up, and death.

But to give up, to lose hope, and say it's all just futile, to sit and wait until they pull the trigger, is part of what people are cursing as a rotten sin.




September 1st, Shanghai, Yang Jia was so hastily sentenced to death. The local government and judicial system, in ignoring the divine rights granted citizens by the constitution, trampling on the sanctity of the law, disrupting the legal process, revealed just how seriously flawed Shanghai's public court system is.

Things are not that simple, though; the Yang Jia case is no longer about some guy that can just be ignored. Through his readiness to die, a single citizen has not only put China's judicial fairness to the test, but its confidence in and stance on social justice as well, awakening China's awareness of civil liberties. The thing that Shanghai just doesn't get is that China is nothing like life along The Bund, in fact it's far more complicated than you could ever imagine.

The Yang Jia case is by no means over; the sentence against him, only illustrates these fraudsters’ desire to defile the sanctity of the law. Stained are the souls that decided upon this obscene fate, people who in the end are unable to break free from their logic which forsakes our people, the abuse of power and spite for the law. We ought to show them, that this time, they will have to pay a price for their stupidity.





For Yang Jia, for every person with dignity dead or alive, for those as young as Yang Jia, for mothers just like Yang Jia's mother.

I call upon the state to retry the Yang Jia case, through an open and transparent judicial process, with a public and legal trial, one that upholds the constitution, as a test of the resolve and strength of China's judicial reforms.

You and I are the same, in that as Chinese people, we believe that the state has made unremitting efforts toward implementing social justice and judicial reforms, believing that through legal means, the highest and most honored legal authority in the country, the Supreme People's Court, can and will resume its duties.

Please use your precious time, and write down your thoughts on the Yang Jia case, and through action, call for fairness and justice.



Demand that the Supreme People's Court dismiss the first trial verdict in the Yang Jia case, appoint a court in another jurisdiction, rehold the trial and make it public, uphold the state constitution, and uphold his rights as a citizen.

Call upon the national leaders to bring the Central Disciplinary Committee, the Central Politics & Law Committee, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Supreme People's Court, the Public Security Bureau and the Ministry of Justice together to form a joint investigative team, to get to the bottom of the origins of the Yang Jia case, and to investigate the illegal conduct of a closed-door sentencing; rectify the Shanghai PSB, Procuratorate and Courts; clean up those local forces working against the state and disregarding national laws; uphold the unification of the national legal system and the authority of the constitution.



北京市东交民巷27号最高人民法院 邮编100745,

Then courier this to:

Supreme People's Court
#27 Minxiang, Dongjiao


At this very moment, I'm brimming with homage for your efforts.

Indie blogger Robert Mao takes a look [zh] at the logic of Yang's case having been held in secret:

杨佳被判了死刑,说实话对此没有人感觉到惊讶。由于审判是秘密进行的,没有媒体和非官僚阶层的人能了解其内幕,因此只有“据说”。比如据说:“杨佳及其辩护人在宣判全程中未发一语,也未表示是否考虑上诉”, 杨佳一语不发,可以理解,因为他已经对这套系统失去了信心所以才自己去寻找说法了;而律师居然也一语未发,实在是让人感慨,的确公安局这个法律顾问的钱没白付啊,不但可以做顾问,还能帮自己的官司对手当不说话的辩护律师。

Yang Jia's death sentence, to be honest, didn't surprise anybody. Due to the trial being held in secret, with no media or people from outside the bureaucracy able to understand what went on behind the curtains, there is only hearsay. For example, it's said that “Yang Jia and his defence didn't say a single word throughout the entire sentencing, nor did they indicate whether or not an appeal is being considered.“ It's understandable that Yang Jia wouldn't have spoken a word, because it was precisely due to his lack of confidence in this whole system that he went looking for his own conclusion; but for his lawyer also to go without saying anything, that really just makes you sigh: money definitely wasn't wasted with having the PSB as a legal consultant! They don't just advise, they can even make the lawyer for the other side go dumb.

其实结果大家是能预料的,这些事实只不过进一步再次强化了大家对目前这套体系的认识而已。 对于类似我过去那样,或者类似杨佳过去那样,对司法体系的公正性还存在一丝幻想的人,可以说是进一步的棒喝 --该醒醒了。

In fact, everybody knew what the outcome would be, and the truth of it has only served to further strengthen people's perception of this whole system. For people like me before all this, or people like Yang Jia before all this, people for whom there still existed some sort of fantasy regarding the justness of the legal system, we can say this has been an eye-opener—and it's time to wake up.

More on the ‘legal consultant’ mentioned by Mao comes from lawyer and elected official Xu Zhiyong has also written [zh] on this, offering an analysis of the case and all the legal and constitutional holes in how it has been handled. Xu starts by pointing out that Yang's appointed lawyer, Xie Youming, as legal counsel for the People's Government in Shanghai's Zhabei district, where the crime took place and the trial was held:


…constitutes a conflict of interest and violates article 39 of the : “Lawyers cannot simultaneously represent both parties in a case, or act as representation in legal matters in which there exists a conflict of interest with either yourself or your close relatives.” Things lawyer Xie has said in media interviews are clearly against Yang Jia's interest, and have given rise to widespread public distrust.

此案名义上是公开审理,但在8月26日开庭审理 “杨佳故意杀人案”时,法院把旁听席位全给了上海市公安局,前来旁听的国内外二十多家媒体和一些市民都被拒之门外。上海市第二中级人民法院的做法,违背了审判公开原则,也违反了《最高人民法院关于加强人民法院审判公开工作的若干意见》规定(”对群众广泛关注、有较大社会影响或者有利于社会主义法治宣传教育的案件,可以有计划地通过相关组织安排群众旁听,邀请人大代表、政协委员旁听,增进广大群众、人大代表、政协委员了解法院审判工作,方便对审判工作的监督。”)迄今为止,上海有关部门并没有对此进行任何解释。


This case was tried publicly in name, but on August 26 when the “Yang Jia Premeditated Murder Case” trial was held, the court gave all observer seats to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, and the 20-something domestic and foreign media and several residents who had come to observe were all refused entry. The Shanghai #2 Intermediate People's Court's actions have violated the principle of open trials, and have violated the regulation that “in cases widely observed by the public, with significant social impact or those favorable to Socialist Rule of Law propaganda education, plans may be made through the relevant organization to arrange for public observers, the invitation of People's Congress representatives and CPPCC members for the enhancement of their understanding and convenience in monitoring of court trial work.” Until now, the relevant departments in Shanghai have yet to offer any explanation on this.

To refuse to reveal the truth, to forbid media discussion, to refuse lawyers willing to speak out any involvement, to refuse holding the trial in a neutral location, to bar journalists and the public from attending, to bar the accused's family from attending, all of this, further exacerbates the public's distrust in the judiciary.



The Yang Jia case could possibly become one of the most symbolic cases in China's legal history and have enormous significance on China's transforming socity. More important than revenge is the truth; more important than results is procedural justice; more important than the death penalty is faith in the legal system. The relevant government departments ought to deeply reassess the the problems in how police enforce the law and abuse of power in the policing system, reassess the practice of secret trials and the enormous harm done to the public psyche through media and internet supervision, reassess the systematic reasons for social conflicts and crises, and reflect on just how we will be able to go about establishing a healthy, open and humane rule of law society.


  • wenyanhua

    disponited,and angry


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