China UpdatePublished by MAC on 2006-12-07
7th December 2006
China Secretly Executes Man after Protest - Lawyer
BEIJING - A court in southwestern China has secretly executed a man who took part in an environmental protest which turned into a riot, a lawyer and a family member said on Wednesday.
Three others were jailed, one of them for life, they said.
The four had been among thousands of people who took to the streets in Sichuan province in 2004 in anger over a hydropower project that would flood 100,000 people out of their homes.
Chen Tao, who was accused of "deliberately killing" a riot policeman during the protest, was executed, Cai Dengming, whose son was Chen's co-defendant, told Reuters.
"When I went to the Ya'an jail to visit my son this week, the officer there told me that Chen Tao had been executed," Cai said by telephone.
His son, Cai Zhao, was jailed for life in the same case. Ran Tong, Cai's defence lawyer, said he had only found out the verdict on Monday, when he received the sentence sheet containing the names and sentences of all the defendants.
"The court had sentenced them in June, but all behind closed doors, and we only got the information almost half a year later," Ran told Reuters by telephone.
"We were not able to defend our clients, and I strongly oppose the court not respecting the spirit of law," he said.
Two other protesters were sentenced to 12 and 15 years in jail, the lawyer said, citing the verdict. The Sichuan People's High Court was not immediately available for comment.
China is grappling with an acknowledged rise in social unrest, sparked by anger at a growing rich-poor divide, official corruption, pollution and land grabs without proper compensation in the countryside.
The country in 2004 had 74,000 "mass incidents" -- protests and riots in Communist jargon -- compared with 58,000 in 2003, Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang said last year.
In one of the most serious incidents in recent years, police and troops fired on protesters in Dongzhou in southern Guangdong province in a violent standoff over construction of a coal-fired power station. The government says three people died.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE