12/09/2009, 00.00
CHINA

A year after his arrest Charter 08 leader to be formally charged

Dissident and former university professor Liu Xiaobo was arrested for allegedly inciting subversion after he signed Charter 08, an appeal calling on the government to implement democracy, religious freedom and human rights and thus save the country’s economic progress.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A year after he was arrested, dissident Liu Xiaobo is closer to a formal trial. The university professor signed along with 300 people a public petition, called Charter 08, calling on the country’s leader to fulfil the Chinese’s desire for democracy and freedom for China as the only way to save the country’s economic progress and protect it from the distortions caused by dictatorship, corruption, and social and environmental imbalance (See “Charter 08, a plea for human rights in China | complete text,” in AsiaNews, 26 January 2009).

Liu’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said police are close to wrapping up their investigation and handing the matter over to prosecutors. This would put the spotlight back on a case that drew a lot of criticism of China’s one party system.

Some Western political leaders had expressed concern over Liu’s arrest. The 53-year-old has been a thorn in the regime’s side since 1989 when he joined a hunger strike in support of student protesters.

He was later jailed for 20 months and then spent three years in a “labour through re-education” camp during the 1990s.

Last June he was arrested and charged with inciting subversion, a broad accusation that covers criticism of the government and its policies.

Charter 08 had broad resonance in China and around the world and was adopted by hundreds of thousands of people.

“If the Procuratorate concludes that the public security agency has clearly established a case backed by evidence, it can then decide to initiate a prosecution in court,” Mo told the press yesterday

Prosecutors now have 45 days to reject the case or call for further investigation. However, this has never happened in cases involving dissidents, and Liu’s chances of avoiding trial are slim, Mo said.

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