Recently, a Beijing court reportedly found a human rights lawyer guilty of “fraud”, and he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The popular lawyer has joined a long list of human rights advocates who have suffered persecution in the government’s effort to suppress opposition.
The undated picture above, shows human rights activist and lawyer Xia Lin.
“Xia Lin, whose clients have included dissident artist Ai Weiwei, was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court after pleading not guilty to the charges,” his lawyer said.
In addition to the prison time he’s set to serve, the accused was also issued orders to pay fines amounting to nearly five million yuan ($750,000).
Lin was deprived of all political rights for a period of three years, according to the judge’s pronouncements. However, the “dissident” lawyer refused to let fear overwhelm him as he was led out of the court.
The 46-year-old lawyer screamed at the top of his voice: “This is retaliation for the cases I have defended!”
Amid very tight security around the court house in Beijing, a large crowd of well-wishers were present to show their support to Lin.
There’s a common saying around the country, “the fear of our government is the beginning of wisdom”, and it’s true. People speak in hushed voices when they talk about the “omnipresent” government.
Lin is very popular around China for the cases he has defended, especially those that were between individuals and the government. Apart from Ai Weiwei, other clients include: Sichuan earthquake rights activist Tan Zuoren; and rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.
The legal case which is believed to have attracted the government’s wrath on Lin, is the lawsuit against Deng Yujiao.
Deng, a former waitress from from Hubei province, killed a government official who attempted to rape her. However, a thorough defense from Lin was able to set the alleged murderer free from all charges but little did he know that traps had been laid on his path.
“Xia’s wife Lin Ruhuo burst into tears when she heard the result, saying she had never expected such a harsh sentence to be handed to her husband,” his lawyer Ding Xikui told RFA.
“We argued at the trial that he was not guilty, and this result is the polar opposite of that,” Ding said. “We think this is an unjust verdict and sentence.”
“Xia Lin has already made it clear that he wants to appeal.”
Meanwhile, rumors are rife that Lin was issued a long jail term for behaving contrary to government’s instructions. He was asked during interrogation to “plead guilty to all charges against him” but he disobeyed the authorities.
Reports confirm that political prisoners are offered lenient treatments by “the law” if they make “public confessions”.
Cui Yingjie, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) veteran, says there are no words to express his gratitude to Lin, adding that his entire family will forever remain grateful to the jailed lawyer.
In his explanations, Yingjie said he owes his life to Lin. The lawyer’s solid defense saved him from the hangman’s noose after he accidentally killed an urban management officer, who first and dangerously attacked him.
In his words: “He [Lin] saved my life back then.
“Xia Lin speaks out for the most vulnerable in society. He’s not afraid to speak truth to power, and most of his cases are politically sensitive,” the survivor said.
Yingjie added: “He was given this sentence today because he angered some people [in power].”
The world’s human rights body Amnesty International China has spoken against the jail term issued to Lin.
A researcher with Amnesty named Patrick Poon has personally criticized the court ruling, saying that China’s “Communist Party had no legal basis for jailing the accused lawyer.
“This was a very harsh sentence … and it’s not hard to suppose that the future is going to get tougher and tougher for human rights lawyers in China,” Poon told RFA.
“The government’s crackdown on rights lawyers is getting harsher and harsher,” he said.
How The Lawyer Was Implicated:
Radio Free Asia reported that Lin was first detained by the police in Beijing on November, 2014.
In what was tagged an oppressive “stability maintenance” program by president Xi Jinping’s government, the lawyer was arrested among many other activists. He was charged for fraud.
Prosecutors alleged that Lin was responsible for defrauding a large number of people out of an estimated 10 million yuan ($1.5 million). The said amount, according to charges laid against him, was used to pay off gambling debts.
The accused lawyer denied all charges, arguing that the said money was obtained as private loans which he’s repaying. He also said there was no verifiable evidence of a gambling debt, and insisted that the loans were personal matters.
Under China’s Criminal Law, official guidelines recommend 10-12 years in jail for fraud crimes, RFA reported.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang denied RFA interview on the court ruling, saying on Thursday that “it was a domestic matter”.