BEIJING (AP) -- With China's new leaders freshly installed in power, authorities are turning their attention to tying up loose ends in the sprawling, scandal-ridden city once ruled by populist politician Bo Xilai before his downfall buffeted the leadership transition.
In the past two weeks, authorities in Chongqing released a village official who had been sent to a labor camp for criticizing Bo. A lawyer disbarred after being convicted of having one of his clients lie in court has filed a petition for wrongful imprisonment. Meanwhile, a newspaper reported that hundreds of police officers who had been dismissed, demoted or otherwise punished were being quietly reinstated.
While the acts are being done piecemeal -- the authoritarian government dislikes setting precedents -- they show the leadership's determination to quietly redress excesses of Bo's four years in power in the southwestern metropolis.
Many in Chongqing are breathing easier too after Bo's rocky reign, which won praise for an organized crime crackdown and promotion of communist culture and then widespread scorn as his career unraveled in seamy accusations of murder and corruption.
"I feel that this redress is necessary," Wang Kang, an outspoken scholar in Chongqing, said in a phone interview. "This was a burden that was left in Chongqing. This burden must be removed so that Chongqing can breathe a sigh of relief."
Chongqing, a breathtaking city of skyscrapers hugging steep hills along the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, has been portrayed as rife with cover-ups, power abuse and corruption under Bo and his police chief, Wang Lijun, in court documents. Since their removal, Bo's wife has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a British businessman and Wang given 15 years for corruption and covering up the murder. Bo awaits trial after the Communist Party purged him for obstruction of justice, corruption and sexual liaisons with numerous women.
The scandal exacerbated already divisive politicking for spots in the new Communist leadership, which culminated at a party congress last month. A new party secretary was chosen for Chongqing, a former agriculture minister known as a consensus-builder. In widely quoted remarks just days into his post, Sun Zhengcai said he was "resolutely opposed to the vulgar, extravagant, degenerate and depraved way of life."
Bo brooked no dissent when in charge. He and Wang used the anti-gang crusade not only to go after organized crime but, according to victims, to cashier critics in the bureaucracy, jail rivals and pressure businessmen into steering deals toward Bo's supporters. A campaign to sing revolutionary songs also intimidated critics, reminding many of the radical excesses of Mao Zedong's rule when he was worshipped as a god.
"Wang Lijun was a law unto himself. If he didn't like the way you looked he would arrest you on the spot," Li Zhuang, the disbarred lawyer, said in remarks posted on the website of the state-run Global Times.
Li, a defense attorney known for his toughness, was jailed for 1
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