by Steven Ertelt
January 15, 2007
Linyi, China (LifeNews.com) — A Chinese appeals court has upheld the conviction of a forced abortion opponent who was falsely charged with the destruction of property in a protest he didn’t attend. The decision came after a retrial where key witnesses were prevented from attending.
Chinese officials have been targeting Chen Guangcheng ever since he brought international exposure to a campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations in the eastern city of Linyi. More than 10,000 women were victimized and families were jailed or persecuted.
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.
His attorneys appealed, but the Linyi City Intermediate Court upheld the conviction.
"We hereby affirm that all the evidence provided in the first trial was accurate and irrefutable, that the charges were correct, that the Yinan People’s Court decision was appropriate and that the procedures were legitimate," the appeals court said, according to the Washington Post. "Therefore, Chen Guangcheng’s appeal was rejected and the original verdict was upheld."
Chen’s top attorney, Li Jinsong, told the Washington post he would continue trying to win his freedom by appealing to China’s legislature.
"I truly believe that my client was innocent and that the verdict today was groundless," Li said.
While the legal process moves forward, Li told the Post that he thinks Chen should be allowed to serve his time outside of prison because of his blindness.
"He can’t manage his daily life by himself," Li added, "and also a blind man is no threat to social order."
Meanwhile, Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, told the Post that court officials wouldn’t allow her to be with him when the appeals court read the verdict because she is accused of being his accomplice. She and Chen’s family have been under a house arrest since Chen was first arrested.
"The whole matter is just ridiculous," she told the newspaper.
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 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.