04/29/2017, 10.51
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Christian human rights lawyer, Li Heping, sentenced to three years of jail

Trial held behind closed doors. He is one of the lawyers and rights activists arrested in July 2015. During his imprisonment Li suffered torture. In the absence of offenses during his detention, he will not have to sever the sentence.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - A Chinese court has sentenced an important lawyer for Protestant Christian human rights to three years in jail, accused of subversion of state power. The court announced yesterday that the sentence is subject to a four-year suspended sentence.

Li Heping is one of the lawyers and rights activists arrested in July 2015, in a campaign of repression carried out by the Chinese authorities, called "709". Of an estimated 300 arrested, many of whom are Christians, he is among the four still in detention.

During the period of imprisonment, Li suffered physical and psychological torture. In the past, he provided legal assistance to dissidents, victims of forced evictions, and followers of Falun Gong that was banned from Beijing.

The court ruled that in the absence of offenses during his detention, Li will not have to serve the sentence, although he had already been arrested for almost two years. According to a statement by the Tianjin court yesterday, at the end of the trial, Li reportedly expressed gratitude and regret to the group of judges, prosecutors and the defending board.

 By virtue of this "remorse", the court stated that the activist lawyer could ask for conditional release. The statement, published online, explained that the trial was conducted without coverage because the case involved state secrets.

Judicial authorities say that since 2008 Li Heping had repeatedly used the Internet and interviews with foreign media to discredit or attack state power and the Chinese legal system. He was also accused of having used foreign funds to intervene in high-profile legal cases and colluding with "illegal religious activists", associates lawyers and other unspecified people, in order to foster Chinese citizens dissatisfaction with the institutions.

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