China tries dissident despite protests

March 18th, 2008 - 5:18 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, March 18 (DPA) China tried a well-known dissident on charges of subversion Tuesday despite appeals from the European Union (EU) and rights groups for his release, his lawyer said. Lawyer Li Fanping said the charges against Hu Jia centred on six articles he wrote and two interviews he gave to radio.

Hu’s mother was the only relative allowed into the four-hour trial at the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court, Li said.

State prosecutors were mainly concerned with Hu’s criticisms of the government, its exercise of official power and the political system, he said.

“Although the criticisms are harsh, we don’t believe it should be counted as subversion of state power,” Li said.

The court might announce a verdict next week and Hu, 34, could face a prison sentence of up to five years if he is found guilty, he said.

In a statement Monday, the EU presidency urged China to “release Hu Jia together with all other writers, journalists and others detained for reporting on or demonstrating against human rights abuses”.

The China Human Rights Defenders group said Hu’s lawyers were given just six days’ notification of the trial date.

Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, and several of leading supporters were not allowed to attend the trial because they were deemed to be witnesses, the group said.

“Hu Jia’s case has been marked by grave rights violations from the outset,” Sophie Richardson of New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement Tuesday.

“His arrest was political, the charges are political, and his trial is political,” Richardson said.

Asked about Hu’s case Tuesday, premier Wen Jiabao said that it would be “dealt with according to the law”.

Wen told reporters that China was still studying the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and hoped to ratify it “at an early date”.

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