by Steven Ertelt
December 1, 2006
Linyi, China (LifeNews.com) — A local Chinese court has upheld the bogus sentence of a leading opponent of forced abortions who was charged with destroying property and disrupting traffic in a protest he never attended. Chen Guangcheng’s attorneys protested what they called a politically motivated court ruling.
Chen, a blind attorney, 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 he 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. That court upheld its original conviction on Friday.
Li Fangping, Chen’s lead attorney, told Reuters after the verdict was released, "This is an evil sentence, and we are very furious about it."
Chen’s brother, the only family member allowed in the courtroom when the new decision as handed down, said the verdict was made in a 30-minute session where no witnesses or evidence were presented, according to a New York Times report.
Mark Allison, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International, told Reuters, "His initial trial was grossly unfair, not least because he was not represented by lawyers of his choice. The retrial failed to consider new evidence from key witnesses and has not delivered justice."
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.
Li 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 told Reuters after the second hearing. “Those witnesses were prevented from attending the trial, and I believe we are headed toward another wrongful conviction.”
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.
Chen’s wife, Yuan, and his mother and brother were allowed to attend the trial after being prevented from doing so last time. However, she was apprehended by police earlier this week and there is no word on her whereabouts.
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, who 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.