Liu Hui, the brother-in-law of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, has been jailed for 11 years on charges of fraud. Lawyers for the real estate company manager called the sentence disproportionate.
Chinese police arrested Liu Hui in January on suspicion of a fraudulent real estate deal. His lawyer said that he was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Sunday at a court in Huairou, north-east of Beijing.
"As Liu Hui's defense attorney, I definitely do not approve of this verdict, because we see this fundamentally as a civil issue, and it fundamentally does not constitute criminal fraud. Also, there is not sufficient evidence," lawyer Mo Shaoping told reporters after the verdict.
Liu Hui, who is the brother-in-law of jailed 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, was convicted for defrauding a man named Zhang Bing of 3 million yuan (370,000 euros, $490,000) along with a colleague in a real estate deal.
Liu Xiaobo's wife Liu Xia, who has spent much of the past two-and-a-half years under effective house arrest since her husband's Nobel award, attended Sunday's trial; news agency Reuters reported that she called the sentence "persecution" in a brief exchange with reporters from her car outside the court.
The defendant's lawyer, Mo, said that his client intended to appeal the verdict.
Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of subversion; in 2009 he distributed a charter calling for democratic reforms in China.
msh/mz (AFP, dpa, Reuters)