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Internet Essayist Li Jianping Languishes in Prison as Verdict is Delayed

August 7, 2006

Human
Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that no verdict has yet been announced in
the trial of Shandong-based dissident Li Jianping nearly four months after his
trial. Li was tried on April 12 on charges of “incitement to subvert state
power” on the basis of articles he wrote that were posted on overseas Web
sites.


Sources in China told HRIC that the ZiboCity
procuratorate has made a request to submit additional evidence in the case, but
Li’s family has received no written or verbal notice of this request. In the
meantime, Li has been almost completely cut off from communication with his
family and lawyer, and has on several occasions relied on others to pass
letters to his family requesting a meeting with his lawyer. Sources worry that
Li could be suffering abusive conditions in detention without anyone knowing
about it.


Li
Jianping, 40, participated in the 1989 Democracy Movement as a founder of the
Independent Federation of Shanghai Universities. In recent years he had run a
medical supplies business in Zibo
City
, and also posted
many articles on overseas Chinese Web sites. Police officers from the local
Public Security Bureau (PSB) reportedly came to Li’s home on May 27, 2005 to
carry out an “Internet security
inspection,” and after finding “indecent” images in Li’s computer, detained him
on suspicion of libel. On May 28, police carried out another search of Li’s
home and seized manuscripts, communications and bank records, and overseas
checks in payment for his articles. Police also searched Li’s office and seized
documents and records.


On June 30,
2005, police formally arrested Li Jianping on charges of “incitement to subvert
state power,” and his case was referred to the Zibo Procuratorate on August 30.
However, the procuratorate sent the case back to the PSB on October 12 and
again on December 26 for supplementary investigation because of insufficient
evidence. The PSB submitted Li’s case to the procuratorate again on January 26,
2006, at which time Li’s defense attorney, Zhang Xingshui, submitted a
statement to the procuratorate on the inadequacy of the evidence. Li was
formally indicted on March 7, 2006. During his two-and-a-half hour trial on April
12, the prosecution presented as evidence the titles of 31 articles Li had
written criticizing the Chinese authorities and expressing concern over China’s
human rights situation.


Article 168
of China’s
Criminal Procedure Law states that the court must announce a judgment within
1.5 months of accepting a case. A one-month extension is possible for “major or
complicated cases,” but even if this has been invoked, Li Jianping’s case has
far exceeded that extended deadline. Li’s case has experienced serious delays
throughout the proceedings. By the time Li was formally indicted in March 2006,
he had been in detention for more than half a year, in violation of Article 138
of the Criminal Procedures Law, which provides for a maximum of one and a half
months for the Procuratorate to issue an indictment in complex cases. The Procuratorate
can also apply for two additional extensions for “further investigation”
lasting one month each.


HRIC
protests the Chinese authorities’ violations of China’s own Criminal Procedure Law
in Li Jianping’s case. If the authorities are still unable to come up with compelling
evidence on the “inciting subversion” indictment after more than 14 months of
investigation, Li should be released immediately. The excessive delays throughout this case only demonstrate the politicized nature of prosecuting Li Jianping for the peaceful expression of his views.