China jails activist for 7.5 years in second case following crackdown

A court in northern China's city of Tianjin sentenced an activist to seven and a half years in prison for "subverting state power" on Wednesday, in the second known trial following the arrests of hundreds of human rights lawyers and activists.

Hu Shegin, who had participated in pro-democracy movements and led underground Christian churches, was also deprived of his political rights for five years, according to the Tianjin No 2 Intermediate People's Court. 

The 61-year-old used his "illegal religious organization" to attract the support of "illicit lawyers" and paid petitioners to spread "subversive thoughts and ideas," the court said in a statement. 

The organization was accused of having "built a systematic ideology, method and steps" to incite public hatred for the government.

Hu, a native of south-eastern Jiangxi province, previously spent 14 years in prison for his efforts to spread information about the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of protesters, and was released in 2008.

Zhai Yanmin, a resident of Beijing and alleged conspirator of Hu's, was sentenced to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve at a separate trial on Tuesday, after also being found guilty of subverting state power.

There are two more cases expected to be heard during the four-day trial in Tianjin, which started Tuesday.

Chinese authorities barred foreign media from entering the court house. 

Hu was quoted in the court statement as thanking police, procuratorate, judges and medical staff for their "help and education." 

On Monday, a video of an alleged confession by lawyer Wang Yu was published on the websites of two Hong Kong media outlets, in which she said "foreign forces" were instilling ideas of democracy among her colleagues and using their law firm to undermine the central government.

Wang, a lawyer at the Fengrui law firm in Beijing, which defends prominent dissidents such as Uighur economist Ilham Tohti, was among those rounded up last June.  

Since last summer, more than 300 rights lawyers and activists from across China have been detained or summoned by police, according to the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.

Of those detained, the majority have been released, but 16 lawyers and activists are still being held, with three recently indicted on the serious charge of subverting state power, according to Amnesty International.

In recent years, there have been a series of high-profile cases where Chinese citizens who made forced confessions after being tortured were exonerated after years of detention, and even after execution.

Last update: Wed, 03/08/2016 - 10:13
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