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Chinese lawyer ‘secretly tried’

Posted by Author on December 13, 2006

BBC News, 13 December 2006-gao zhisheng

A Chinese lawyer who is well-known for taking on politically sensitive cases is reported to have been put on trial for subversion.

Gao Zhisheng’s own lawyer said the trial had taken place in Beijing on Tuesday and that a verdict was pending.

Mo Shaoping said he had not been informed about the proceedings beforehand and had been refused the right to defend Mr Gao.

If found guilty, Mr Gao could face up to 15 years in prison.

He has angered the authorities for representing religious activists and farmers with land disputes.

Mr Gao was represented by court-appointed lawyers assigned after the court said he had refused any legal representation.

But Mr Mo said neither he nor Mr Gao’s family were allowed to attend the proceedings.

“Court officials told me it would be an open trial, but no-one was allowed to attend.

“Not allowing lawyers to meet with Gao Zhisheng is a violation of legal rules and illegally deprives him of his legal rights,” he added.

Rights ‘crackdown’

Gao Zhisheng was formally arrested in September “on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power”, and Mr Mo said he was only told later of the charges his client faced.

His family say they have been denied permission to see him since he was detained.

Earlier this year, Mr Gao organised a protest over what he called widespread police brutality against activists.

His clients have included members of the banned spiritual organisation Falun Gong, members of an underground church, and those who complain they have lost land to the authorities.

Mr Gao’s arrest was one of several involving human rights lawyers and activists in recent months, and is believed to be part of a wider crackdown in China on human rights campaigners.

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