In a case represented by Dacheng attorneys, the court of retrial cut the amount of accused bribe taken by the defendant Guo Guoping and ordered a penalty of lesser severity, even though in judicial practice retrial and commutation for white-collar crimes has been rare, particularly regarding cases of bribery.
Guo was former deputy head of Runzhou district branch of Zhenjiang Land and Resources Bureau, deputy direcotor of the bureau’s Cultivated Land Protection Center and director of Zhenjiang Land Requisition Affairs Office.
On 2 December 2009, he was detained on charges of bribery and was arrested 13 days later. On 16 November 2010, Guo was convicted of bribery and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the People’s Court of Runzhou District. Guo appealed against the ruling at the Intermediate People’s Court of Zhenjiang.
On 30 May 2011, however, the appeals court dismissed his case and maintained the original ruling. He was consequently put into a prison in Jiangsu.
In June 2011, Guo’s family entrusted Dacheng partner Zhang Zhiyong to restart the appealing process. Zhang travelled to Zhenjiang eight times to collect evidence, consult case materials, meet Guo in person and write documents required for the appeal.
According to law, attorney Zhang should first file an appeal at the Intermediate People’s Court of Zhenjiang. In November 2011, the court heard the case and dismissed it again. But the attorney decided to bring the case to the High People’s Court of Jiangsu.
Having examined the case, the High People’s Court found that some of the facts were not clear, nor evidence sufficient. It thus ordered the Intermediate People’s Court of Zhenjiang to call a collegiate panel to conduct a retrial.
The defence in the retrial was reinforced by the joining of Dacheng attorney Zhang Zhiwen. The duo travelled constantly to Zhenjiang to collect evidence and prepare for the defence.
Their opinion at the Intermediate People’s Court of Zhenjiang was adopted by the court, which ruled that on the basis of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ principle, the ¥800,000 (£76,000) involved in Guo’s case should not be counted as bribe and that the 10 years’ imprisonment in trials of first and second instances should be commuted to seven years.
Dacheng said that its defence team exhibited perseverance, expertise and a strong sense of responsibility in this case.