Show Trials Highlight Deep Flaws in System: Court Upheld Unfair Prison Term for Chen Guangcheng

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Immediate Release

The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders

January 12, 2007

Show Trials Highlight Deep Flaws in System:

Court Upheld Unfair Prison Term for Chen Guangcheng

The Linyi Municipal Intermediate People’s Court announced its verdict today of uphelding the 4-year and 3-month sentence of Chen Guangcheng for “gathering crowds to disrupt traffic order” after a closed door hearing. Chen Guangcheng, the blind prisoner of conscience, is imprisoned at the Yinan County Detention Center in Shandong province for exposing local authorities’ use of violence against villagers in official family planning campaigns.

CRD finds the decision grossly unjust. The court went through the motions, putting up a show of “rule of law,” without re-examining the seriously flawed re-trial at the local court. The local Yinan court reached its verdict after it failed to admit new evidences submitted by lawyers, to allow key witnesses to testify in court, to duly respect the defendant’s right to legal council. In fact, the local court’s trial and decision were seriously tainted by police abduction-detention and forced disappearances of key witnesses, by policy intimidation, harassment and arbitrary house detention of defendant’s wife, by police-coordinated violent attack on lawyers. The higher Linyi court’s decision darkened the glimmer of hope for justice, offered by the Linyi Intermediate Court when it overturned the Yinan County Court’s initial verdict. CRD reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen Guangcheng.

Chen Guangcheng’s lawyer Li Jingsong, recovering from injuries suffered from the attack, received a message from the court yesterday about today’s announcement of verdict. However, the lawyers and the family have not received any notification and they were not present when the verdict was pronounced by the court, while Xinhua’s English service put out the news.

On November 27, 2006, the Yinan County Court re-tried Chen Guangcheng after its verdict was overturned by the higher Linyi Intermediate Court in late October. The Yinan court announced its verdict on December 1, re-convicting Chen Guangcheng for the same crime and sentenced him again for the same jail terms. The Yinan court did little to correct the procedural missteps that marred the investigation and the initial trial.

To intimidate and retaliate against independent lawyers, unidentified hit-men violently attacked lawyers Li Fangping and Li Jinsong, evidently well-coordinated with local police. The attack took place, when the lawyers were traveling to Linyi to visit Chen Guangcheng at the detention center, on the highway in Linyi, Shandong, on December 27, 2006. Li Fangping suffered minor head injuries and continues to experiences headache. Li Jinsong is recovering from swollenness and bruises over his eyes and arms.

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