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Three Years in Prison for “Disrupting Public Order”

October 17, 2005

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai petitioner Xu Zhengqing has been sentenced to three years in prison on a charge of “disrupting public order.”

Xu Zhengqing is a long-time petitioner who has been subjected to constant persecution by the authorities as a result of his outspoken views. In the indictment against Xu, the Shanghai Putuo District Procuratorate alleged that while attempting to commemorate deceased former leader Zhao Zhiyang in Beijing on January 29, Xu caused disorder on a public bus by failing to pay his fare, and later on the train back to Shanghai by shouting that he had been beaten, causing an “incident” that congested the train corridor for less than an hour. However, according to eyewitnesses and fellow petitioners who testified in court, soon after Xu and other petitioners boarded a public bus in Beijing on January 29, and before they could pay their fares, the driver announced that the bus had broken down and required all passengers to disembark. The petitioners were forced to take a train back to Shanghai, and witnesses testified that while on the train, they saw Xu seriously injured after he was assaulted by police. After seven months of detention, during which the Shanghai procuratorate sent the case back to the PSB twice for further investigation, the only charges the authorities could bring against Xu were that he caused “serious” disruption of public order by failing to pay a bus fare and creating congestion in the corridor of a train, acts that would not normally subject individuals to prolonged detention. In addition, the prosecution produced no evidence in support of the indictment at trial.

Xu went to trial on September 13, after which the case was adjourned until the morning of October 17, when head judge Tang Min delivered the verdict against Xu in proceedings that lasted less than five minutes. Xu was not allowed to respond, but he managed to shout out, “I’m innocent! This is a frame-up, an injustice! I want to appeal!” as he was led away. The judgment is appended to the Chinese version of this press release.

Six of Xu’s friends and family members were allowed to attend the proceedings, but more than a dozen fellow petitioners, including Ai Furong, Chen Daili and Chen Xiuqin, were detained by police when they attempted to gather outside of the courthouse.

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