Chinese court jails disbarred lawyer and husband | News | DW | 10.04.2012
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Chinese court jails disbarred lawyer and husband

A chinese court has sentenced disabled activist Ni Yulan and her husband to jail for unruly behavior and fraud, a year after their arrest. The couple offered legal advice to people whose land had been seized.

Disbarred Chinese lawyer Ni Yulan was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison on Tuesday on charges of fraud and "picking quarrels, provoking trouble and willfully destroying private and public property."

Ni's husband, Dong Jiqin, was given two years in prison for the latter charge, according to a court spokesman in Beijing.

The couple was detained last April as authorities sought to stamp out rallies similar to those in the so-called Arab Spring movement. Their trial took place behind closed doors in December.

Ni Yulan sits on a bed in a hotel in Beijing.

It's the third time Ni has been handed a jail sentence

Prosecutors convicted the couple for causing a disturbance at a hotel where police had detained them. The court said that the pair had not paid months of hotel bills and also convicted Ni of posing as a lawyer and receiving 5,000 yuan ($795, roughly 600 euros) through deceit.

Real estate activists

Fifty-one-year-old Ni was disbarred as a lawyer in 2002, the first time she was arrested and detained. After being banned from the bar, Ni has continued offering legal advice to people forced from their homes - with many of these instances tied to hurried developments for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Her supporters say this advocacy work is the reason for her arrest and detention.

Ni was jailed in 2002 for one year for "obstructing official business" and then again for two years in 2008 on charges of "harming public property."

The European Union said in a statement on Tuesday that it was "deeply concerned" about Ni's sentence, and asking that she be immediately released owing to poor health.

"The European Union is preoccupied with the deterioration of the situation for human rights defenders in China and will continue to follow these cases attentively," the statement said.

Ni uses a wheelchair, saying this is a result of mistreatment by police during her past periods in detention.

msh/ng (AFP, AP)