China tries dissident despite protests by EU, rights groups
Mar 18, 2008, 8:12 GMT
Beijing - China tried a well-known dissident on charges of subversion on Tuesday, his lawyer said, despite appeals from the European Union and rights groups for his release.
Lawyer Li Fanping said the charges against Hu Jia centred on six articles he wrote and two interviews given to radio stations.
Hu's mother was the only relative allowed into the four-hour trial at the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court, Li told Deutsche
Presse-Agentur dpa by telephone.
State prosecutors were mainly concerned with Hu's criticisms of the government, its exercise of official power and the political system, he said.
'Although the criticisms are harsh, we don't believe it should be counted as subversion of state power,' Li said.
The court might announce the verdict next week and Hu, 34, could face a prison sentence of up to five years if he is found guilty, he said.
In a statement on Monday, the European Union presidency urged China to 'release Hu Jia together with all other writers, journalists and others detained for reporting on or demonstrating against human rights abuses.'
'The EU considers charges of 'subversion' resulting from the peaceful expression of opinions to undermine the right to freedom of expression enshrined in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the constitution of the People's Republic of China,' it said.
The China Human Rights Defenders group said Hu's lawyers were given just six days' notification of the trial date.
Hu's wife, Zeng Jinyan, and several of leading supporters were not allowed to attend the trial because they were deemed to be witnesses, the group said.
'Hu Jia's case has been marked by grave rights violations from the outset,' Sophie Richardson of New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday.
'His arrest was political, the charges are political, and his trial is political,' Richardson said.
Asked about Hu's case on Tuesday, Premier Wen Jiabao said only that it would be 'dealt with according to the law'.
Wen told reporters that China was still studying the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and hoped to ratify it 'at an early date'.
Hu told his lawyers last week that he was interrogated 47 times, for between six and 14 hours each time, in the first two months since his detention on December 27.
He had spent most of the previous two years under house arrest or other forms of detention.
During his house arrest, Hu continued to post details of human rights abuses on the internet and frequently spoke to foreign journalists about the cases.
Hu and Zeng spoke via the internet to a European Parliament committee in November, when they criticized the human rights record of the Chinese government and the organizers of this year's Beijing Olympics.
Hu is best known for his advocacy for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in China, winning several international awards.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raised his case during a visit to Beijing last month.