11/02/2006, 00.00
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Farcical trial of blind activist overturned

The decision was taken by the Intermediate People's Court that ordered a new trial for Chen Guangcheng. But there will be no justice for Ching Cheong, a journalist accused of spying.

Linyi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The kangaroo court proceedings that condemned a renowned blind activist, Chen Guangcheng, to more than four years in prison have been overturned by the Intermediate People's Court in Shandong that ordered a retrial.

The decision, which could lead to his release from jail, was taken because the first trial "violated lawful defence procedures". This was announced by Li Subin, one of Chen's defence lawyers. For years, Chen Guangcheng has been fighting against the practice of forced abortions in the eastern province of Shandong.

Meanwhile, a court in Beijing has accepted the appeal filed by Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong journalist accused of spying, but announced that "new witnesses will not be heard". This makes the appeal just a session to confirm his sentence of five years imprisonment.

On 24 August, a court in Yinan County condemned Chen Guangcheng to four years and three months in prison after convicting him of "intentionally damaging property" and "organising a mob to disrupt traffic".

Chen is known across the country for his work for people with disabilities and for his campaign again government birth control policies. Thanks to his denunciations, China's Family Planning Agency was forced to admit on 19 September last year that some government representatives "had carried out forced abortions and sterilizations in violation of citizens' legal rights."

As soon as the first trial was over, since then, more than 100 members of human rights and religious bodies wrote to President Hu Jintao protesting against the treatment and farcical trial of Chen.

The decision to have a retrial is seen by many as the fruit of an international campaign in favour of Chen.

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See also
Shandong: blind activist condemned to four years in prison
Shandong: Blind activist appeals verdict of farcical trial
Shandong: fresh violence targets blind activist cause
Beijing: tomorrow final verdict for Ching Cheong, arrested without proof
Chen Guangcheng, practically still in prison


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