Leng Guoquan, a seafood trader, was sentenced to death on 16 December 2009 by the Dandong City Intermediate People’s Court in Liaoning province. He was charged with being a leader of a criminal gang engaged in smuggling and trafficking drugs. His conviction followed an unfair trial, and was based on his confession and testimonies from witnesses who have either subsequently retracted their statements or say they were tortured into testifying against him. 

Leng Guoquan himself has always denied the charges and says he confessed because he was tortured. Detained on 19 January 2009, Leng Guoquan said he was tortured for three days and three nights while being interrogated by a special police unit. Three police officers bound his hands behind his back. They pushed his head between his legs and punched him. Later, they lit one end of a tube of rolled paper and stuffed the other end into his nose, covering his mouth until he was forced to breathe in the fire. Since January 2009, Leng Guoquan has been interrogated and tortured several more times. 

Leng Guoquan has been held at the Fengcheng County Detention Centre since 2009. He was first registered under a false name (Chen Dong), apparently in an attempt to prevent his lawyer and family from finding out where he was held. Since discovering his location, his family have not been allowed to visit him. His family have appointed four different lawyers to represent him. The judicial authorities forced the first one to resign after he took pictures of Leng Guoquan’s scars which he said were a result of torture, while the second and third were denied access to him. The fourth lawyer eventually gained access and met him before his first trial. This lawyer filed a complaint with the Dandong City Procuratorate in July 2009 claiming that his client had been tortured in custody and calling for an investigation. 

In August 2010, the Liaoning Provincial Procuratorate concluded that the allegations of torture were unfounded. At the trial, Leng Guoquan’s lawyer had no chance to cross-examine key witnesses. Those who did testify retracted their previous statements. Leng Guoquan’s co-defendant said that he had been tortured into confessing. Another witness also said that he had given the police false information. The prosecution did not provide any material evidence to support witness statements (which were subsequently withdrawn) that claimed he was guilty. 

At his appeal hearing on 7 December 2010 at the Liaoning Provincial Higher People’s Court, Leng Guoquan showed the court the scars on his head, wrists and legs he said were inflicted through torture. Of 56 witnesses called by the defence, only three were heard by the court. On 6 May 2011, the Liaoning court sent Leng Guoquan’s case back to the Dandong City Intermediate People’s Court for re-trial due to “lack of clarity about the facts” and “lack of evidence.” The re-trial took place on 10 October 2011. 

ADPAN: When Justice Fails – Thousands executed in Asia after unfair trials, (2011), p25 (

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