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Internet essayist put in prison as verdict is delayed

Posted by Author on August 8, 2006

hrichina.org, August 07, 2006– Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that no verdict has yet been announced in the trial of Shandong-based dissident Li Jianping nearly four months after his trial. Li was tried on April 12 on charges of “incitement to subvert state power” on the basis of articles he wrote that were posted on overseas Web sites.

Sources in China told HRIC that the Zibo City procuratorate has made a request to submit additional evidence in the case, but Li’s family has received no written or verbal notice of this request. In the meantime, Li has been almost completely cut off from communication with his family and lawyer, and has on several occasions relied on others to pass letters to his family requesting a meeting with his lawyer. Sources worry that Li could be suffering abusive conditions in detention without anyone knowing about it.

Li Jianping, 40, participated in the 1989 Democracy Movement as a founder of the Independent Federation of Shanghai Universities. In recent years he had run a medical supplies business in Zibo City, and also posted many articles on overseas Chinese Web sites. Police officers from the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) reportedly came to Li’s home on May 27, 2005 to carry out an “Internet security inspection,” and after finding “indecent” images in Li’s computer, detained him on suspicion of libel. On May 28, police carried out another search of Li’s home and seized manuscripts, communications and bank records, and overseas checks in payment for his articles. Police also searched Li’s office and seized documents and records.

On June 30, 2005, police formally arrested Li Jianping on charges of “incitement to subvert state power,” and his case was referred to the Zibo Procuratorate on August 30. However, the procuratorate sent the case back to the PSB on October 12 and again on December 26 for supplementary investigation because of insufficient evidence. The PSB submitted Li’s case to the procuratorate again on January 26, 2006, at which time Li’s defense attorney, Zhang Xingshui, submitted a statement to the procuratorate on the inadequacy of the evidence. Li was formally indicted on March 7, 2006. During his two-and-a-half hour trial on April 12, the prosecution presented as evidence the titles of 31 articles Li had written criticizing the Chinese authorities and expressing concern over China’s human rights situation.

Article 168 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law states that the court must announce a judgment within 1.5 months of accepting a case. A one-month extension is possible for “major or complicated cases,” but even if this has been invoked, Li Jianping’s case has far exceeded that extended deadline. Li’s case has experienced serious delays throughout the proceedings. By the time Li was formally indicted in March 2006, he had been in detention for more than half a year, in violation of Article 138 of the Criminal Procedures Law, which provides for a maximum of one and a half months for the Procuratorate to issue an indictment in complex cases. The Procuratorate can also apply for two additional extensions for “further investigation” lasting one month each.
HRIC protests the Chinese authorities’ violations of China’s own Criminal Procedure Law in Li Jianping’s case. If the authorities are still unable to come up with compelling evidence on the “inciting subversion” indictment after more than 14 months of investigation, Li should be released immediately. The excessive delays throughout this case only demonstrate the politicized nature of prosecuting Li Jianping for the peaceful expression of his views.

Related:

AI report 2006- China overview(2)
Undermining freedom of expression in China, Amnesty

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