BEIJING: Protesters gathered outside a courthouse in eastern China yesterday in hopes of taking advantage of the media frenzy surrounding the country’s highest-profile case in decades, the trial of ousted politician Bo Xilai.
Police detained several demonstrators trying to attract attention to their own causes, escorting a elderly woman wearing a paper hat labelled “Injustice” away from the court in Jinan. “I want to see if China’s courts are fair or not. Are they only unfair to people like us or to everyone?” said another woman, Lin Xiuli, 43.
Bo, once one of China’s highest-flying politicians, is set to go on trial today for bribery and abuse of power. Attendance at the proceedings, which analysts say are meant to bring to a close a scandal which exposed deep divisions and corruption at the highest levels of the Communist Party, is likely to be strictly controlled, with independent media barred from entry.
The protester detentions occured in front of a gaggle of reporters — kept away from the courthouse by a cordon — while more demonstrators arrived later. Several identifed themselves as petitioners — citizens with decades of personal grievances who file complaints with more senior departments, but often face illegal detention. Lin said she had been petitioning for eight years over a civil case involving an ex-boyfriend, and had been detained more than 20 times for a total of more than 900 days.
She and four other protesters had a noisy row with police, while another group who said they travelled to the courthouse from China’s commercial hub Shanghai hurriedly handed papers to journalists and called out as police ushered them away.
The extremely sensitive trial has been anticipated for around a year and a half, since Bo was dismissed from his position as head of the megacity of Chongqing and as a member of the ruling Communist Party’s 25-strong Politburo. AFP