Jailed Dissident Appeals

A Chinese pro-democracy activist appeals his sentence for “subversion of state power.”
2010-01-04
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Liu Xiaobo 305
Liu Xiaobo, in an undated photo.
Boxun

HONG KONG—Jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has appealed his subversion conviction, according to one of his defense lawyers.

Liu, 54, met with two of his attorneys in a detention center in Beijing, informing them that he had filed an appeal against his conviction Dec. 29.

One of the lawyers, Mo Shaoping, released a statement from Liu, who maintained his innocence.

“The following words are from Liu Xiaobo himself: ‘My sentencing can sustain neither the scrutiny of the Chinese Constitution and international treaties nor the questioning of justice. It cannot endure the trial of history, either.’"

“‘I believe I have committed myself to a just cause, and China will ultimately become a country with freedom and democracy, in which all people live in sunshine, without fear.'"

"'To further this goal, I hve made sacrifices with no regrets. For an intellectual thirsty for freedom in a dictatorial country, prison is the very first threshold. Now I have stepped over the threshold, and freedom is near,’” Mo said, repeating Liu’s statement.

Constitutional rights

Liu, a prominent pro-democracy activist, was sentenced by a court in Beijing on Dec. 25 to 11 years in jail on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”

Liu played a leading role in drafting Charter 08, a document calling for political change in China. As a signatory of Charter 08, Mo was barred from defending Liu at his trial.

However, he said Liu’s six articles and Charter 08, on which the verdict was based, were all within the purview of the freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution.

Mo said that China lacks an independent judicial system and that legal practice is “under the control” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“The judge on the case couldn’t decide the verdict, despite his power over the procedure.  Therefore, we see some serious mistakes [in the process],” Mo said

“For example, the judge limited the speaking time for Liu Xiaobo’s self-defense, as well as for the lawyers’ defense. There is absolutely no legal basis for such an action,” he said.

Mo said Liu’s defense team gathered historical documents as evidence for the trial, including the "Resolution of the Second National Congress of the CCP" (1922), an editorial from the state-run newspaper Xinhua Daily, "The Declaration of August 1" (1935), and an article from former Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong titled"On Coalition Government" (1945).

“We wanted to use these materials to verify that the ideas of “federal republic,” “anti-one party despotism,” and “freedom of speech,” which Liu Xiaobo advocated, were all principles [originally] advocated by the CCP,” Mo said.

“However, at the trial the judge refused our requests to use them with the reason that they had not been submitted to the court beforehand. There was no legal basis for this decision either,” Mo added.

According to China’s criminal code, the second verdict, or decision on appeals, must be made within 1-1/2 months.

Mo said the second verdict would not necessarily mean a second trial.

“The second verdict is customarily not based on a trial, but based on documentary reviews,” Mo said.

“But the appeals court will have to request Liu Xiaobo to appear in court and listen to his opinion on the appeal. They will ask us as lawyers for our opinion and we will have to submit formal defense statements,” he said.

Liu has been an outspoken critic of the government since joining a hunger strike supporting student protesters on Tiananmen Square in 1989, just days before the army crushed the pro-democracy movement.

He was later jailed for 20 months and then spent three years in a labor camp during the 1990s.

Before his December conviction, Liu had already spent a year in detention while Chinese authorities carried out an investigation of his case.

Despite pressure from the government, rights groups say that Charter 08 has been signed by more than 10,000 people, including leading intellectuals, writers, dissidents, and ordinary Chinese citizens.

Earthquake activist appeals

In a separate development, jailed rights activist Huang Qi’s request for appeal has been received by an appeals court in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, his lawyer, Ding Xikui, said Monday.

“Today the Chengdu Intermediate Court asked us to send them the formal statement of defense for Huang Qi, which means there will be no court trial for his appeal. We will go to Chengdu soon,” Ding said.

Huang Qi was sentenced to three years in prison last November after facing charges of “illegally holding state secrets.”

Huang had been detained since June 2008 when he was arrested by police in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

Huang is a prominent critic of the government response to the Sichuan earthquake disaster in May 2008 which left about 90,000 people dead, according to a government estimate, including 5,335 schoolchildren.

Following the earthquake, Huang joined other volunteers and entered the quake zone 14 times to help rescue victims.

Huang was detained after he tried to help parents of children who died in the quake investigate allegations of shoddy school construction.

Original reporting by Ding Xiao for RFA’s Mandarin service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated by Ping Chen. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.