Stage set for 'gang of 4' trial

All is ready for the trial of the "gang of four" -- Mao Tse-tung's widow, Jiang Qing, and her cohorts, Monitor correspondent Takashi Oka reports. Hundreds of selected Chinese spectators are assembled, according to the People's Daily. The courtroom is ready. Portions of the trial will be re layed by satellite to television audiences around the world.

But the question remains, can the trial be fair? Portions of the 48-count indictment read like a spy thriller, with talk of plans to dynamite Mao's special train or attack it with flame throwers and 40-mm bazookas.

The number of victims during the 10 years during which the gang held sway is enormous -- 727,420, of whom 34,274 were "persecuted to death." The late Lin Biao, rather than Jiang Qing, is charged with plotting the bazooka attack, back in 1971. Jiang Qing herself is linked to the plan of an armed rebellion in Shanghai only through her henchmen Zhang Chun Qiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.

"The people have great anger against the 'gang of four,'" said a noted writer , Ding Ling, one of the most prominent victims of the gang of four. "Three whole generations have suffered because of them."

Asked if she thought the trial could be fair, she replied simply, "I cannot predict the results."

Some of the difficulties involved in making some of the more sensational charges stick were illustrated in the final installment of the indict ment, released Nov. 18. The armed rebellion in Shanghai is said to have been prepared for as early as July 1967. But the actual rebellion was decided on only after the news of the arrest of the gang of four became known by the gang's followers in the city on Oct. 8, 1976.

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