Judicial Persecution Plagues Retrial of China Forced Abortion Opponent

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 27, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Judicial Persecution Plagues Retrial of China Forced Abortion Opponent Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 27
, 2006

Linyi, China (LifeNews.com) — A Chinese activist against forced abortions received an unfair second trial over bogus charges that he damaged property and blocked traffic in a protest. Chen Guangcheng was convicted in August and sentenced to more than four years in prison for the supposed crimes but a retrial of the case saw the same persecution as before.

After Chen, a blind attorney, was convicted the first time, an appeals court overturned the conviction, citing inadequate evidence and sent it back to the lower court in Yinan County.

The original trial was a sham where Chen’s attorneys were detained before it began and he was appointed two state lawyers who knew nothing of his case and did little to defend him.

This time, Chen’s attorneys were able to attend, but two key witnesses disappeared and local authorities, who have constantly harassed Chen, his family and attorneys, were seen detaining another witness before the trial.

According to a Reuters report, Li Jinsong, one of two attorneys representing Chen in Monday’s retrial, walked out of the courtroom midway through the hearing to protest the unfair nature of the proceedings.

Li said two key witnesses couldn’t be located for the hearing and he said he saw a third, Chen Guanghe, taken away by people he described as local police or thugs hired by them.

"Our witnesses were prepared to make clear that the evidence against Chen Guangcheng was based on forced confessions of several people who do not stand by their accusations against him,” Li said. “Those witnesses were prevented from attending the trial, and I believe we are headed toward another wrongful conviction.”

Reuters called the local police for information the apprehension and were told they knew nothing of it.

Li also said that he was prevented from gathering more evidence in the case and said about 30 local officials in Chen’s home town of Dongshigu.

Li told Reuters he asked for a suspension in the case, citing the problems, and the court refused it.

“I left the court to protest the way they have trampled the law and the dignity of the law,” Li said.

A verdict in the trial is expected in a month and Li said he hoped the court would drop the more serious charge of organizing a mob to disrupt traffic, but thought the court would convict Chen on the charge of damaging property, which could land him in jail for seven months.

Chen’s wife, Yuan, and his mother and brother were allowed to attend the trial after being prevented from doing so last time.

China’s official media outlet reported that Chen was charged because he was upset the government sent workers to poor villages to distribute food. However, Chen never attended the protest where the crimes were allegedly committed.

Instead, Chen and his family came under intense persecution following his interviews with Time and the Washington Post about a brutal family planning campaign conducted in the eastern city of Linyi.

There, local officials forced as many as 10,000 women to undergo abortions or sterilizations and jailed or harassed family members who refused to turn in women targeted in the campaign.

Chen, whot taught himself law though he has been blind since childhood, was organizing a class-action lawsuit against the government at the time his persecution began.