World

American accused of leading gang in China is tried

BEIJING — An American businessman who is accused of loansharking, arson, kidnapping rivals, and paying thugs to toss acid in the face of a judge, among other crimes, went on trial this week in a case that has raised questions about the use of forced confessions by Chinese courts and prompted concern from US officials.

The businessman, Vincent Wu, a Chinese immigrant who settled in California two decades ago, was originally scheduled to stand trial more than a year ago, but his case has been repeatedly delayed.

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Since his arrest in June 2012, prison officials have refused to provide consular access to US diplomats by saying that Wu is a citizen of China, not the United States.

The trial, which began Monday at the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, is expected to last two weeks.

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Wu, 57, described by prosecutors as the ringleader of a local crime syndicate in the southern province of Guangdong, says the confession was extracted through torture.

In a deposition, he said he had been hung from the ceiling by his arms, force-fed stimulants that kept him awake for days and beaten until he signed the confession.

New York Times

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