The family of a Chinese coal magnate convicted of bribery and theft of state secrets will continue to fight for his release after he lost a court appeal on Monday, his wife said.
The Beijing Higher People’s Court rejected the appeal by Zhao Faqi, 55, and upheld a 7½-year jail sentence handed down by a lower court in the city last month.
In the same higher court on Monday, Wang Linqing, a former assistant judge at the Supreme People’s Court, also lost his appeal against a 14-year jail term and 1 million yuan (US$149,400) fine for taking bribes and illegally obtaining state secrets, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.
Wang, 49, had been found guilty last month of accepting bribes from people including Zhao and stealing court materials – related to a coal mine ownership dispute in Yulin, Shaanxi province in which Zhao was a plaintiff – that he passed to the businessman.
Zhao’s wife Cathy Li, who now lives in Canada, said the appeal verdict was delivered virtually and lasted only a few minutes.
“The judge announced that the appeal is dismissed and the original sentence stays. Then the whole thing was over,” Li said.
“My brother-in-law said he saw my husband had said something but he couldn’t hear what he said, and then he was quickly taken away,” she said.
“My husband is innocent and the family and I will continue to appeal and ask for a new trial – we will not give up.”
The cases of Zhao and Wang relate to a long-running coal mine dispute between Zhao’s firm, Kechley Energy Investment, and the state-owned Xian Institute of Geological and Mineral Exploration, involving a deal worth 100 billion yuan. Zhao launched legal action in 2006, eventually winning his case in the Supreme People’s Court in 2017.
Quoting from last month’s court’s verdict on Wang, Xinhua said he stole and gave Zhao a large number of court documents related to the dispute, five of which had been certified as state secrets.
The case had caused a stir in 2019 after former television talk show host Cui Yongyuan alleged on social media that court documents related to the mine ownership dispute had been stolen. He also accused Supreme People’s Court president Zhou Qiang of interfering in the mine dispute to influence judges against ruling in Zhao’s favour. Wang was one of the judges handling the case.
Cui later posted a video of Wang repeating the claim about the documents, an accusation that was also repeated by Zhao in an open letter on Twitter.
But Wang later admitted on state television that he had made false accusations against Zhou to vent his anger at Supreme People’s Court colleagues after being passed over for internal promotion.
An investigation into the accusations concluded that Zhao’s case had been handled properly by the court but recommended improvements to its management of documents.
More from South China Morning Post: