Hearings against the five military defendants linked with Mao Tse-tung's widow, Jiang Qing, in the trial of the so-called `Gang of Four', began in Peking on Sunday (23 November).
GV Gateway to compound surrounding court area.
GV Jiang Qing on television being watched by Chinese. (3 SHOTS)
GV People buying newspapers in street.
GV People reading newspapers on wall. (2 SHOTS)
SV Reader looking at cartoon. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: Hearings against the five military defendants linked with Mao Tse-tung's widow, Jiang Qing, in the trial of the so-called `Gang of Four', began in Peking on Sunday (23 November). The trial of all ten defendants opened on Thursday (20 November), but was divided into two tribunals and adjourned after the reading of the twenty thousand word indictment. It accused Jiang Qing, and the other three members of the gang, Mao's former political secretary and five officers of carrying out a string of alleged counter-revolutionary crimes, carrying possible death sentences.
SYNOPSIS: Only four of the ten accused have admitted their guilt. Mao's widow, Jiang Qing, has firmly denied all the charges and asked to carry out her defence. Millions of Chinese were able to see extracts of the opening of the trial on television and hear the indictment, which includes details of a plot of blow up Mao's private train in 1971. Jiang Qing is not herself accused of attempting to assassinate her husband, but of persecuting thousands of people during the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976. The `Gang of Four', who also include former Shanghai mayor Zhang Chunqiao, ex-party chairman Yao Wenyuan and former factory worker Wang Hongwen were arrested in October 1976 and have been held in custody ever since.
China's official press has ridiculed the behaviour of Jiang Qing, describing her as an ambitious woman who wanted to become empress. Her photograph, alongside the other nine defendants, appeared on the front page of the Communist party paper, the People's Daily, on Friday (21 November) for the first time since her arrest. The portraits were graphically encircled by a chain and captioned "dragged into the dock of history".
The paper also printed a cartoon captioned "the last resting place", showing the ten defendants standing in an open coffin. The editorial defended the decision to charge the gang under China's new criminal law rather than accuse them of political errors. It said the persecution of thousands of people to death was clearly a criminal matter.