The family of an Australian surgeon jailed in China broke their silence yesterday, calling for a decision on the doctor’s appeal as his health deteriorates.
Du Zuying (杜祖鷹) was detained at Beijing airport in February last year and subsequently sentenced to four years in jail for misuse of funds, reportedly related to his involvement with a blood plasma business.
In January he lodged an appeal against the sentence. A decision was due by April, but is still pending.
His son Tommy Du, who lives in Sydney, called for the Chinese justice system to follow due process in relation to his father, who is aged about 60 and who brought his family to Australia from China in 1989.
“The Chinese courts need to follow their own laws and their own legal procedures,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“Give a judgement, whether that’s guilty or not, give a judgement because at the moment he is just stuck in legal limbo in China,” he said.
He said he understood his father’s health was deteriorating and he was suffering cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, as well as threatening self-harm.
A spokesman for Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said consular staff were in close contact with Du Zuying and they had raised his case with Chinese officials in Shandong Province where he is being held.
“His family raised with us earlier this year whether we could make representations to ... Chinese officials that there seemed to be an extended delay in determining the appeal,” a spokesman said.
“We did so. Our consulate staff raised that with the Shandong High Court and also with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs both of whom undertook to look into it,” he said.
Since then Australia’s ambassador to Beijing Frances Adamson had written to a top official in Shandong, raising the family’s concerns about the health of Du Zuying, he said.
Thirty-nine Australians are serving jail sentences in China, most them for commercial matters such as fraud, tax evasion and commercial disputes of one sort of another, the spokesman said.