Wen Qiang on trial before being sentenced to death. Image credit: Xinhua (via SCMP).
When 20 million yuan was found buried beneath the pond of former Chongqing police chief Wen Qiang it was held up by Wen’s successor, megalomaniacal fashionista and bazooka enthusiast Wang Lijun, as a perfect example of the corruption that was rife in the city before Bo Xilai cleaned house.
Now, as it becomes more and more apparent just how incredibly corrupt Bo and Wang’s regime actually was, many are beginning to question the evidence that was used in the conviction of Wen, who was executed on charges of corruption in 2010.
The 20 million yuan haul was first reported on by a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper days before Wen was arrested, so perhaps its appropriate that its another Hong Kong newspaper that’s a bit too close to Beijing that brings us these new revelations:
Since [Wang and Bo’s downfall] several people, including former police officers, have come forward to challenge the fish pond story, saying it was simply fabricated by Wang to incriminate Wen and help consolidate Bo’s grip on power.
“Wen had nothing to do with it,” said one Chongqing businessman familiar with the case. “The money was actually borrowed from a local business just a day before Wang invited the media to see the so-called evidence.”
He said police buried the bundles of cash, carefully wrapped in waterproof paper, in the morning and then dug them up in front of the cameras that afternoon.
Another key piece of evidence used to convict Wen – two luxury villas worth more than 30 million yuan that Wen allegedly owned – has also been questioned.
A former senior police officer in Chongqing who was close to Wen insisted he was the real owner of the villas, where Wen allegedly kept mistresses and which were later turned into destinations for “anti-graft education” tours.
Though this information is obviously far too late to help Wen (highlighting once again the clumsy, inefficient evil that is capital punishment), not only has he been partially exonerated in the eyes of history, but he now looks somewhat prescient:
Although Wang has refused to reveal details of their last conversation, Wen has been widely quoted as expressing defiance and disappointment about the way he was treated.
“You’ll meet the same fate as me,” he told Wang.
Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison in September, Bo Xilai will soon follow him.