Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Wife of blind Chinese activist questioned

SERIOUS TRAMPLING Yuan Weijing was taken away by policemen as she was leaving the courthouse, adding to an already long list of grievances against the authorities


The wife of a blind Chinese activist was taken for questioning by police yesterday, a day after his retrial concluded with no immediate verdict.

Yuan Weijing (袁偉靜) said she had just come out of a court in Shandong Province's Yinan County after signing some documents when six or seven policemen approached her.

"They said they wanted to talk to me about some matters, but refused to say what they were," Yuan said in a telephone interview from the courthouse yesterday morning. "This is a serious trampling of Chinese law."

Li Jinsong (李勁松), a defense lawyer for Yuan's husband, said he was with Yuan when she was taken away.

"Seven or eight plainclothes policemen came and took her away," Li said. "They showed me the police summons."

Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠), Yuan's husband, had documented complaints that officials trying to enforce the country's birth-control regulations were forcing villagers to get late-term abortions and sterilization.

He was convicted in August of damaging property and "organizing a mob to disturb traffic" and sentenced to more than four years in prison.

State media have reported that Chen instigated an attack on government offices in Yinan County.

Human rights activists said his case was an example of official retaliation and unjust imprisonment of dissidents based on fake charges.

Relatives and supporters have said that Chen and his family were beaten, threatened and confined to their house by thugs. Yuan said she was being watched around-the-clock by local policemen, who have restrained and beaten her if she travels too far from home or interacts with her lawyer.

Earlier this month, an intermediate court where Chen filed an appeal overturned the sentence, citing inadequate evidence, and sent it back to the lower court in Yinan County in Linyi City.

A verdict from Monday's retrial was expected within one month, said Li, one of two lawyers representing Chen.

Li walked out of the courtroom midway through the proceedings to protest what he said was unfair treatment and meddling by the local authorities.

Two of Li's witnesses could not be found and he said he saw a third, Chen Guanghe (陳光和), taken away on Sunday by a group of eight men he believes were either local police in civilian clothes or men with links to the police.

He said he was also prevented from gathering evidence and that he was assaulted on Sunday by a group of about 30 people in his home village of Dongshigu.

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