November 14, 2007 (Hong Kong): Human Rights in China has learned that human rights defender and legal advisor Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong) was convicted in Guangzhou at 8:30 am today of "illegal business activity" and sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment and fined 40,000 yuan. Human Rights in China condemns Guo's conviction, particularly following a trial marked with serious procedural irregularities.
"The imposition of this heavy sentence for what appears to be a politically motivated prosecution has a chilling effect on other rights defenders and undermines China's efforts to build a rule of law," said Executive Director Sharon Hom. "This result following a procedurally flawed process, a year in detention, and reports of torture, is particularly ironic in the case of Guo Feixiong, who advocated the use of law to seek justice."
Guo went on trial at Guangzhou's Tianhe District Court on July 9, 2007, on charges of "illegal business activity" in connection with the publication of Shenyang Political Earthquake《沈阳政坛地震》, a book concerning a political scandal in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. On July 26, 2007, Guo's wife Zhang Qing learned from a judge at Tianhe District Court that the procuratorate had requested that Guo's case be sent back for supplemental investigation following the adjournment of his trial. At the end of August, Guo'’s case was sent back to the Tianhe District Court upon completion of this investigation period. On October 12, 2007, Zhang learned that the Tianhe District Court had requested approval from the Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province to further delay Guo’s case for another month.
Guo, who provided legal advice in a number of controversial rights defense cases, was detained on September 14, 2006, and formally arrested on September 30, 2006. The Guangzhou Public Security Bureau referred the case to Guangzhou's Tianhe District Procuratorate, but the case was sent back on January 19, 2007, for supplemental investigation. On January 20, the case was transferred to the authorities in Liaoning Province. The case was referred again to the Tianhe District Procuratorate on February 17, but the procuratorate sent it back once more to the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau on March 1 for another round of supplemental investigation. Guo was formally indicted on May 15, the last day on which a prosecution could be initiated against him.
Guo was detained and beaten on a number of occasions in 2005 and 2006 before he was formally arrested. Since being taken into formal detention, he has told his lawyer that he has been subjected to severe physical abuse and round-the-clock interrogation, and he has reportedly gone on hunger strike for a total of 40 days in protest against his treatment.
For more information on Guo Feixiong's case, see: