News / Asia

    Chinese Court Sentences Blind Activist's Nephew for Assault

    Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen in a video posted on YouTube on April 27, 2012 by the Chinese news website Boxun.com. Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen in a video posted on YouTube on April 27, 2012 by the Chinese news website Boxun.com.
    x
    Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen in a video posted on YouTube on April 27, 2012 by the Chinese news website Boxun.com.
    Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen in a video posted on YouTube on April 27, 2012 by the Chinese news website Boxun.com.
    Zhu RuifengKate Woodsome
    A court in eastern China has sentenced the nephew of rights activist Chen Guangcheng to prison, in a case the blind dissident says provides a discouraging look at the direction of China’s new leadership.

    The Yinan County People's Court sentenced Chen Kegui Friday to three years and three months in prison for assaulting officials who stormed into his house looking for his uncle earlier this year. The incident followed Chen Guangcheng’s dramatic escape from house arrest in Shandong province.

    The case is the latest chapter in a political drama that stirred tensions between Washington and Beijing and underscored China’s struggle with the rule of law.

    Friday’s surprise trial and sentencing came six months after authorities detained Chen Kegui and held him incommunicado. Court officials initially charged him with murder for the incident in which he slashed and wounded three people with a kitchen knife, but relatives say that charge was downgraded because officials did not have enough evidence to prosecute it. Chen Kegui’s family says he acted in self-defense.

    Court officials in Yinan were not available to comment on the case.

    Hopes for reform dim

    Chen Guangcheng told VOA his nephew’s sentencing dims his hopes for political and legal reform, just two weeks after the Communist Party named its next generation of leaders.

    “Everybody has a high hope for the new leaders and we hope that they can do something. But right now, they have given us a very clear answer with their real act. They showed the whole world what kind of new leadership they are. By doing so, they have torn down their mask,” Chen Guangcheng said in a telephone interview Friday from New York.

    The blind lawyer had spent 19 months under house arrest for exposing forced abortions and other wrongdoing by local officials, when he escaped to the U.S. Embassy in April. He moved to the United States to study in a deal worked out by U.S. and Chinese officials, in part to relieve diplomat tensions during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
     
    Chinese officials pledged at the time to investigate local authorities who kept Chen Guangcheng in extrajudicial detention after he’d already served prison time, and allegedly beat the activist and his family.

    Sophie Richardson, the China director for Human Rights Watch, said those officials have failed to fulfill their promises.

    "The man who was party secretary for Shandong when Chen Guangcheng was initially jailed has now been elevated to the Politburo Standing Committee,” she said. “So I think if you look at that particular individual's trajectory relative to Chen Guangcheng's case, as opposed to how these various legal proceedings have unfolded, these do not bode well for a predictable rule-based system inside China.”

    Judging the justice system

    Chen Kegui’s father, who learned of the trial just hours before it began, told VOA he did not believe the court’s announcement that his son would not appeal the verdict. Chen Guangfu said authorities “must have done some work” to force his son to accept his conviction.

    Chen Guangcheng also speculated his nephew might have been tortured or, perhaps, had lost faith in the justice system.
     
    Richardson said it is difficult to tell what is motivating Chen Kegui because his legal advisors were appointed by local officials.

    “It's hard to know whether the people who were ostensibly representing Chen Kegui in court were actually acting in his best interest or in the interest of local officials, which is a problem that happens all the time in China,” she said.

    Richardson added that the legal proceedings did not meet the minimum standards for a fair trial.

    "To the extent this prosecution was a test of the rule of law in China, the rule of law lost,” she said.

    China’s outgoing leaders have said cracking down on corruption and cleaning up the legal system are key priorities for the country, which they say will continue after they retire. The next set of leaders, who will serve for a decade, take office early next year.

    Additional reporting by Sarah Williams.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    December 01, 2012 8:29 AM
    so give his nephew visa and scholarship and allow him to come to US. everyone will happy right?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.