12.10.13 03:47 Age: 6 yrs
Edward Lehman Featured on CCTV Dialogue: A Step in the Right Direction - Bo Xilai Found Guilty and Sentenced to Life in Prison
September 25, 2013 – Beijing – In the most transparent trial of China’s modern history, the Jinan Intermediate Court handed down a sentence of life in prison to former Communist Party leader, Bo Xilai, on counts of bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power. CCTV invited Edward Lehman, Managing Director of LEHMAN, LEE & XU a top corporate Chinese law firm, Professor He Jiahong from Renmin University, and Andrew Fox, Journalist and Current Affairs Commentator, on September 22, 2013, to a live discussion of this historic trial and its impact on China and its judiciary system as a hopeful step in the right direction.
Edward Lehman’s on the ground experience as an Attorney and Managing Director of a top corporate law firm in China for over 26 years allows him to provide extensive legal and social insight regarding international policy and legal systems, making him a frequent guest and legal expert on CCTV and an obvious choice as a participant in Sunday’s discussion.
In conclusion of the trial by Jinan Intermediate Court, Bo Xilai, former leader of Chongqing, was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to life in prison, confiscation of all personal assets, and deprivation of political rights for life. Issues surrounding this case and discussed on Sunday included 1) International perceptions of this ground-breaking trial and its verdict, 2) levels to which this trial can truly be considered transparent, and 3) mechanisms for cracking down on corruption in the future.
When asked to comment on the severe verdict handed out to Bo Xilai, Mr. Lehman made the clarifying point that while he agrees with the judgment of this Jinan tribunal, it’s important to remember that Bo Xilai has recourse to appeal his case to the Higher People’s Court of Shandong. An appeal in Chinese courts, he also elucidated, is unlike an appeal in a U.S. court system in that the Chinese appeal is not dependent on proving error or mistrial in previous proceedings. Bo Xilai may appeal his case to the Higher Court system and this will entail a completely separate trial. According to Mr. Lehman, a long road may still lie ahead but “the outcome of this trial is a great step in the right direction.”
The sentence against Bo Xilai includes life in prison, confiscation of all personal assets, and deprivation of political rights for life. Professor He of Renmin University made the important point that deprivation of political rights for life may come as the hardest blow to Bo Xilai and, considering his political stature, may feel to him essentially like a “death sentence.” Shedding light on the U.S. legal system in regards to the details of the verdict, Mr. Lehman notes that asset confiscation and removal of political rights for life is not uncommon in U.S. courts. However, of importance to this case is that the confiscation of Bo Xilai’s personal assets is a reassurance to the Chinese public that his ill-gotten gains will not be ignored and the many aspects of his corruption are being heavily weighed against him. Mr. Lehman responded in agreement to the outcome of this trial and emphasized its impact as the most transparent trial in the history of China, “this is a great step in the right direction for law and transparency, that the most powerful person or the weakest person has their day in court.”
However, journalists and foreign correspondents shared opinions that, while this may be considered the most open trial in China’s history, not being allowed to view the trial makes them question its true transparency. In response to questions regarding the true openness of the trial, Mr. Lehman supported the significant strides that the Chinese legal system has made, that publishing the official court transcript is still unheard of in Hong Kong and that is a noteworthy sign of judiciary growth and improvement in China. In considering the unprecedented openness of Bo Xilai’s trial, he stated, “the foreign pundits are focusing too much on the fact that they were not able to enter the trial and be there the whole time.”
From debate regarding Bo Xilai’s trial, the discussion moved to the issue of future mechanisms for monitoring and disciplining corruption in China which included ideas of vertical leadership within investigations, democracy, more stringent audits, improved systems for promoting government officials, and the role of social media. Vertical leadership for investigative agencies is a vital goal, emphasized by Professor He, that needs to result in a system independent from the government. Drawing from decades of international legal experience, Mr. Lehman stressed the importance within all possible mechanisms that a system of checks and balances is developed, whether it concern promoting government officials or the role of social media.
Democracy, vertical leadership, and social media; they may all be powerful tools for combating corruption but, to bring perspective, Mr. Lehman highlighted from George Orwell that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” There is still much work to do and a long way to go in battling corruption in China but “it is not so much where we are today, it is how far we have come.” The incredibly open nature of this trial should be the focus and for now, “this is a great step in the right direction for law and transparency.”
View the Interview:
LEHMAN, LEE & XU is the third largest corporate commercial law firm in China established in 1992 by a group of Chinese lawyers committed to developing excellence in the practice of law and to the founding of modern law practices in China. The firm has been recognized as one of the top law firms in China and is managed by Mr. Edward Lehman, a leading expert on corporate law with over 26 years of practice experience in Mainland China.
Today, LEHMAN, LEE & XU has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macau, and Mongolia with more than 250 lawyers, patent and trademark attorneys and legal assistants providing a full range of legal services to meet the diverse need of our clients, worldwide.
We are recognized as a leading law firm providing the best and most diversified legal services, representing many of the world's largest multi-nationals in a variety of transactions, as well as our local clients in the international corporate investment arena.
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