Nobel laureate's brother in law gets 'harsh' 11 years jail
Protests as Liu Xiaobo's relative is sentenced in Beijing
Rights groups in Hong Kong today condemned what they called the “harsh” jail sentence handed down to the brother-in-law of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Liu Hui was sentenced to 11 years by a court in Huairou, north-east of Beijing, yesterday on fraud charges in connection with a real estate deal.
Rights groups who gathered in protest outside the Chinese government’s liaison office called the sentence “disproportionate.”
Liu Hui was accused of defrauding a man of around 3 million yuan (US$490,000). He was also deprived of his political rights for two years and fined for 10,000 yuan.
Liu Hui was first arrested and charged in April 2012 over the case but charges were dropped five months later due to a lack of evidence. However, the same charges were laid again early this year. Liu Hui has consistently denied them.
Activists say this is further evidence of the state persecuting the Liu family.
Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for a “subversion” crime after he co-authored a 2008 “charter” calling for democratic reforms. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Since then, his wife and Lui Hui’s sister, Lui Xia, has been held under house arrest.
Patrick Poon Kar-wai, secretary general of the Hong Kong-based Chinese Independent PEN Center, of which Liu Xiaobo is a member, called Liu Hui’s sentence “too heavy” and an “injustice.”
This was “a move to force Liu Xia to persuade Liu Xiaobo to go into exile,” he said.
“The government does not want too much attention placed on Liu Xiaobo and it will be under less pressure if he leaves the country,” he added.
Prosecutors could not “provide any evidence or documents” against Liu Hui and depriving him of his political rights was “unusual” in a supposed crime like this.
He also expressed concern about Liu Xia, who looked “on the verge of collapse.”
Liu Xia had been allowed to attend the end of her brother’s trial yesterday. It was the second time she had left her home since April when she attended the opening session of the hearing.
She called the sentence “political persecution,” and “illegal” before being driven away from the court.
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