China Forced Abortion Opponent Chen Guangcheng Gets New Trial Date

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 22, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China Forced Abortion Opponent Chen Guangcheng Gets New Trial Date Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 22
, 2006

Linyi, China ( — Forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng will undergo a new trial next week on bogus charges that he destroyed property during a protest. However, his attorneys are worried that the retrial will be just as corrupt as the last one and won’t hear evidence that police forced testimony from Chen using torture and harassment.

Chen is the blind attorney who brought an international spotlight to the devastating family planning campaign in this eastern Chinese city.

He gave interviews to two American media outlets in which he exposed a brutal campaign that included forced abortions and sterilizations of 10,000 women, and tactics by local family planning officials that included harassment, kidnapping and imprisonment.

After exposing the forced abortion campaign, Chen and his family were placed under house arrest and Chen was later charged with damaging property in a protest related to his house arrest, even though he wasn’t present at the rally.

In August, Chen was sentenced to over four years in prison in a trial that saw his attorneys detained and prevented from assisting him.

An appeal court ordered a retrial, but Chen’s attorneys are concerned it, too, will be unjust.

"We will certainly plead ‘not guilty’ because there’s no adequate evidence for either of the charges," Chen attorney Li Fangping told Reuters. "We hope this time to have an open and fair trial, but that is still just a cautious hope."

Li added that "Key testimony against Chen Guangcheng was obtained through torture" some of the witnesses for the prosecution have withdrawn their statements because of it. "All of them suffered grievous torture, and we want to show that to the court, but I’m not sure yet."

Still, they have been warned not to attend the trial according to Li and Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing.

Last week, Yuan told Reuters she was concerned she would not be able to attend the trial and is still blocked by local Linyi officials from leaving her home village. She was prevented from attending the first trial as well.

Yuan also told the Taipei Times newspaper she worries about an unfair trial.

"I’m worried because evidence and witnesses in his favor might not be allowed in court," she said. "Local officials are telling everybody not to tell the truth for Chen or they will be punished. They are very scared so they don’t want to say anything."

She said that local officials and "hooligans" they’ve hired continue to follow her everywhere she goes.

Despite the hoopla surrounding his case, Li said that Chen remains "relaxed" through it all

In Chen’s first trial, he was defended by state attorneys who some say argued against Chen and stood with local prosecutors representing the pro-forced abortion Linyi officials.