A Chinese court has sentenced the brother-in-law of imprisoned Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison on charges of fraud.
The court in suburban Beijing issued the sentence in a brief hearing Sunday after finding Liu Hui guilty of fraud in a real estate dispute.
Liu's sister, and the wife of the Nobel laureate, Liu Xia, called the verdict "persecution." Liu Xia has been kept under house arrest since shortly after her husband was awarded the Nobel peace prize. She told reporters after the sentencing of her brother that she has seen no improvement in China's human rights record under new president Xi Jinping.
The family and their supporters have said the prosecution of Liu Hui is meant as further punishment of the Nobel laureate's family and is intended to intimidate political activists. Lawyers say the verdict and sentence will be appealed.
Liu Hui and a business partner were accused of fraudulently taking around $500,000 from another party in a real estate transaction.
Liu Xiaobo was arrested in 2008 for campaigning for peaceful democratic change in China. Liu Xia was placed under house arrest in 2010 after her husband was awarded the Nobel. She is kept in her apartment without phone or Internet connections to prevent her from becoming a rallying point for other activists.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.