A letter appealing for help by some Chinese citizens including Zheng Jianbo from Libya has been released by various web media recently. Zheng claimed in the letter that the Chinese Embassy in Libya didn't provide them any help during the two years when they were in trouble there. The Foreign Ministry Spokesman's Office found through verification that the letter didn't tell truth at all. The following is the real account:
A department store leased by Mr. Wu, a Chinese businessman, caught fire in Tripoli, capital of Libya, in March 2005, causing property losses valued at over two million US dollars to Libyan side. In June, the Prosecutor's office in Libya issued a warrant to arrest Wu and other three including Zheng Jianbo, a welder in the building, for negligence in the fire accident. They were later released on bail after handing in their passports but were not allowed to travel abroad. After being sentenced to one year of imprisonment for negligence in the fire accident by the court of Tripoli in February 2006, the four appealed to Libyan Supreme Court, which in November ordered a retrial of the case at the court of Tripoli. In January 2007, the court of Tripoli decided to uphold the previous judgment.
The Chinese Embassy in Libya places high importance on protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens. On the very day when the accident happened, the Chinese Ambassador to Libya went to the site of accident and asked the Libyan side to ensure a just trial of the case during his meeting with the Director of the of Consular Department of Libyan Foreign Ministry. During the trial at the court of Tripoli, the Chinese Embassy issued several notes to Libyan Foreign Ministry, kept in touch with the defense lawyer and followed the trial closely. After the Supreme Court accepted the appeal, the Chinese Embassy expressed Chinese concerns in many ways. The competent department in Chinese Foreign Ministry, during talks with the Libyan counsellor, urged the Libyan side to uncover the truth, find out who should be held accountable and ensure a law-based and just trial. As to Wu's wage defaults to Zheng and others, thanks to the meticulous and patient mediation of the Chinese Embassy among the parties concerned, Zheng and others recovered their outstanding wages and living allowances.
It is noteworthy that the Chinese Embassies and Consulates are the diplomatic and consular missions of China. According to norms of international law, the consular protection given by Chinese Embassies and Consulates can not rise above the laws and regulations of the country of residence or interfere in the its domestic legal procedures.
As for the 4 people who went through Libyan judicial procedures to protect their rights and interests, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Embassy in Libya forwarded their requests to the Libyan side, urged the Libyan court to try the case fairly and made a lot of efforts within their capacity.
The Libyan court has decided to uphold guilty verdict of the 4 people after retrial now. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Embassy in Libya will continue to follow the developments of the case closely, render active to them in properly handling legal and living affairs on the basis of respecting their will.