Tianjin court sentences second activist | News | DW | 03.08.2016
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Tianjin court sentences second activist

A Chinese rights activist has been sentenced to 7½ years in prison on subversion charges. It's the second sentencing of the "709 crackdown" targeting activists and lawyers that had challenged the ruling Communist Party.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported Wednesday that 61-year-old Hu Shigen had pleaded guilty to "subversion, damaging national security and harming social stability" at the start of his hearing before the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court. It said he would not appeal.

"Hu's ideology and his behaviors have seriously harmed the country and social stability," state media quoted prosecutors as telling the court.

The brief trial came a day after the court issued a suspended three-year sentence to activist Zhai Yanmin.

Both were arrested last year as part of the "709 crackdown" - so-called because most were rounded up July 9, 2015, a nationwide crackdown on legal rights activists. About 300 lawyers and activists were initially seized and questioned before most were released.

Hu stood accused of leading an "underground organization" that masqueraded as a church but was dedicated to identifying and drawing attention to accusations of government abuses.

The trial took place under tight security, with police and plainclothes personnel - distinguishable by small gold star pins - stationed every few meters around the courthouse.

Prosecution produces long dossier

A graduate of Peking University, Hu was a professor in Beijing when he became active with a would-be political opposition party following the army's violent crackdown on 1989 pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square.

Hu had been sentenced in 1994 to 20 years in prison on the now-abolished charge of counterrevolution in connection with his political activities, but was released in 2008 after his sentence was reduced. His previous conviction likely contributed to the long sentence imposed this week.

There are two more cases - activist Gou Hongguo and lawyer Zhou Shifeng - who are expected to be heard during the four-day trial in Tianjin that started Tuesday. Chinese authorities barred foreign media from entering the courtroom.

More than a dozen others remain jailed, their legal status uncertain, while family members say they and their lawyers have been denied access to the detainees.

Some family members and lawyers have also been detained after seeking information.

jar/kl (AP, dpa)

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