Yang Jia: Stranger than Fiction

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This is from our colleague Jessie Jiang, who is following the trials and tribulations of convicted cop killer and surprise internet hero, Yang Jia, a case that is producing fascinating insights not only into the Chinese justice system but the attitude of ordinary Chinese towards the police:

Looks like the stranger-than-fiction tale of Yang Jia just took another bizarre turn. Liu Xiaoyuan, a Beijing lawyer who has been closely following the case, reported on Monday that the cop killer’s mother, Wang Jingmei, has finally emerged in public after disappearing for four months. According to Liu’s blog, Wang was secretly kept in a psychiatric hospital run by the Beijing Police Bureau throughout the prosecution of her son. A female officer who answered the phone at Beijing’s Office of Compulsory Treatment –which is responsible for cases like Wang’s–refused to comment or give her name when contacted Wednesday.

Wang’s disappearance, which came after her visit to a police station to help in the investigation of her son, has heightened skepticism about the case and raised questions about Liu’s allegation that the police might have kidnapped her to prevent her testifying in her son’s case. (For example, artist and blogger Ai Weiwei argued here that Wang might be the only person who knows the details of how her son was beaten by the Shanghai cops in 2007 and the ensuing negotiation process between the police and Yang over that beating, all of which took place before the murders.) In Wang’s absence, the court overrode accusations of police misconduct and put Yang on death row.

So far, public reaction to this latest episode has been surprisingly calm, thanks partly to the swift removal of related discussion threads on major BBS sites such as tianya.cn and mop.com. Blogs, however, remained largely intact. Here’s what Lianyue, a veteran columnist for Southern Weekly, wrote in a blog post entitled “Driven Crazy”:

“Wang Jingmei may not be psychotic, but the authority kindly decided she is; Yang Jia, who might actually be crazy, was hastily pronounced by the authority to be normal; Whether they are sick or not, it is the authority who always wins… And if you are not crazy yet, you’ll eventually be driven crazy in this country.”