China: Beijing admits: Gao Zhisheng "was sentenced"

world | Mar 18, 2010 | By Asia News

Beijing - Gao Zhisheng, a Christian lawyer and prominent dissident, "was convicted of having committed the crime of subversion of state power." It was admitted by the Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, during a joint press conference with his British counterpart, David Miliband, on a visit to Beijing. However, the Communist official did not specify where the lawyer has been held since he was arrested in February.

Yang did not even clarify if the sentence refers to the trial held (in one day) in 2006, or if it is the outcome of a new trial. The elder brother of the dissident, Gao Zhiyi, commented: "We are still trying to find out what has happened, we must wait for new news. If it is true that he was sentenced, this is not good news".  Gao, 44, was once a model lawyer of the Communist Party. Over the years he became an activist for human rights, defending Christians, Uyghurs, members of Falun Gong, and other victims of abuse. In 2006 he was sentenced to three years in prison but the sentence was suspended  

Lawyer Mo Shaoping, who defended Gao in the course of another trial, argues that Gao Zhisheng - who was on bail - was re-arrested and then this sentence is added to a previous one".  According to Chinese law bail can be revoked without it being technically necessary to inform the lawyers or the family of the accused. The first time, in 2006, Gao Zhisheng was arrested and convicted with the constant charge of "attempting to subvert state power '.  

The case has provoked protests from the international community. After the demands of Washington and Berlin, the last to seek clarification on the fate of Gao was the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who expressed his concern for the fate of the dissident lawyer during his official visit to China to his Chinese colleague Yang Jeichi.

"I raised the case - Miliband told the press after the meeting in Beijing - because there is a general concern in this regard. In his case, the concern is where he knowing his whereabouts".  Yang did not answer the question, but had earlier said that Gao "was sentenced for subversion of state power. According to the Chinese judicial system he has been granted his rights".   According to the Chinese Ministry for the Interior, "Gao is exactly where he should be."



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