09/23/2016, 09.19
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China, 12 years in prison for Ai Weiwei’s lawyer: He fought for human rights

Xia Lin defended some of the most important dissidents in the country. A court found him guilty of tax fraud for about 500 thousand Euros. Leaving the courtroom he shouted: "This is revenge for the cases that I defended in court." The "battle against lawyers" launched by the leadership led by Xi Jinping continues and grows harsher.


Beijing (AsiaNews) - The No. 2 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing has sentenced Xia Lin, renowned Chinese lawyer involved in the battles for civil rights and famous for representing artist Ai Weiwei, to 12 years in prison for tax fraud.

According to the judges, he has done away with funds totaling 4.8 million yuan (about EUR 500 thousand). Xia has already spent two years in prison as a precautionary measure, but that did not guarantee a reduction of the penalty. Xia’s lawyer, Wang Zhenyu, confirmed the ruling.

The condemned lawyer has been deprived of political rights for three years and will have to pay a fine of 120 thousand yuan, amounting to just over 16 thousand euro. Xia, his wife and his supporters have rejected charges of fraud: "Xia Lin is not guilty - his lawyer told the DPA - and has decided to appeal, which we will do in the coming days". While they were taking him out of the courtroom after the verdict, he shouted: "This is revenge for the cases that I defended in court."

Xia represented some of the country's most famous dissidents and activists. These include Tan Zuoren, who fights against the government for the disasters caused by the earthquake in Sichuan; Pu Zhiqiang, a very famous lawyer specializing in human rights and Deng Yujiao, a Hubei waitress ended up in prison for killing a government official who wanted to rape her. The arrest came in November 2014, shortly after his announcement to defend the activist and writer Guo Yushan, "guilty" of having supporting the movement for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

The sentence has caused uproar even in China, since it is one of the heaviest fines imposed in the context of the "battle against lawyers" launched by the leadership of Xi Jinping. Even Liu Xiaobo, the author of the democratic document "Charter 08" and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has received a milder sentence: 11 years in prison, which he is still serving.

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