Trial ends in violence as China jails activist

March 24th, 2008 - 8:19 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, March 24 (DPA) Court police armed with electronic batons Monday restrained a rights activist, his sister and lawyer said, shortly after he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of subversion. The charges were reportedly linked to a signature campaign calling for improvements in human rights ahead of this year’s Beijing Olympics.

The sentence handed to Yang Chulin after a 30-minute hearing was “harsh” and related to articles written by Yang that contained only “scholarly discussion”, his lawyer, Li Fangping, told DPA.

The trial in Jiamusi city in Heilongliang province, ended in chaos as Yang attempted to reach his wife, who had fainted in court, Li and Yang’s sister said.

“At this moment, a police officer electrocuted Yang several times with an electric baton,” his sister, Yang Chunping, who was in court, told DPA by telephone.

Yang, 52, was holding his stomach and appeared in a lot of pain after the attack, his sister said.

“Then my brother was thrown into a police car,” she said.

Yang refused to sign the official record of the trial because he disagreed with the charges.

“He said that speaking freely is not committing a crime,” Yang Chunping said.

“As the lawyer of Yang Chunlin, (I think) he should be free of charges,” Li said.

“Even if he did commit a crime, the punishment of five years is still too harsh,” said Li, who was not at the trial.

Yang was formally charged with “subversion of state power” last September.

The main reason for his arrest was a campaign to encourage thousands of local people to sign an open letter saying “we want human rights, not the Olympics,” the group China Human Rights Defenders said.

Police also told Yang’s family that the charges against him included accepting funding from “overseas anti-China organizations”.

Yang, a laid-off state worker, was detained at least four times in 2006 for helping villagers with land disputes, the group said.

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