China - Human rights activist Hu Jia to be tried on 18 March on subversion charge



    MONTREAL, March 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today urged
the international community to keep up the pressure on behalf of human rights
activist Hu Jia, who is to be tried on 18 March 2008 on a charge of "inciting
subversion of state authority". The organisation reiterates its call for his
immediate and unconditional release.
    "The authorities have scheduled Hu's trial for 18 March although no
guarantees of fairness or transparency have been given," the press freedom
organisation said. "The recent arrest of one of his friends, lawyer Teng Biao,
is an especially disturbing sign. Diplomats and journalists must insist on
being free to attend the hearings."
    One of Hu's lawyers, Li Fangping, told the media today that the date for
Hu's trial before the Beijing people's intermediate court No. 1 was set just
one week after the complaint was formally registered with the Beijing
prosecutor's office. The evidence file submitted by the political police
reportedly weighed more than 4 kilos.
    Hu's other lawyer, Li Jingsong said he will plead not guilty on behalf of
his client, who faces the possibility of a long jail term. The police
investigation has reportedly concentrated on articles by Hu that were posted
online, especially on the overseas Chinese-run website Boxun, and on some of
his statements to the foreign press about the Olympic Games.
    Li Fangping said Chinese citizens would be free to attend the trial. But
Hu's wife, Zeng Jinyan, although she will probably be called as a witness,
will not be able to attend. She has not seen Hu since his arrest on 27
December.
    Human rights lawyer Teng Biao was released by the authorities on 8 March
after being held and interrogated in complete secrecy for two days. A close
friend and supporter of Hu and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, he was arrested by
police on the evening of 6 March and was bundled into an official car with a
bag over his dead. "This is all I can tell you for the moment, it would not be
appropriate to say any more," he said.
    Another lawyer, Li Heping, was attacked by public security officers at he
was driving his son to school in Beijing on the morning of 7 March. The police
car that had been following him from his home deliberately drove into the back
of his car. As a result, he has been suffering back pains. Li, who is under
permanent police surveillance, was kidnapped and beaten on 29 September, and
was warned against continuing to support Hu Jia.




For further information:

For further information: Hélène Fargues, Assistant to the Secretary
General, Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208,
rsfcanada3@rsf.org

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