Skip to main content

Prominent Chinese activist blasts nephew's conviction

By the CNN Wire Staff
December 1, 2012 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Chen Guangcheng says his nephew is being punished in his stead
  • The father of Chen Kegui says he's been sentenced to 3 years and 3 months in prison
  • Chen Kegui is the nephew of prominent human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng
  • He was arrested shortly after his uncle fled house arrest and sought U.S. help in Beijing

Beijing (CNN) -- Prominent human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng told CNN on Friday the conviction of his nephew in China was retribution for Chen's escape from house arrest and move to the United States.

The People's Court of Yinan County in Shandong Province on Friday convicted Chen Kegui, the nephew, of "intentional infliction of injury" during a clash with local officials in his home, said Chen Kegui's father, Chen Guangfu. The nephew was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

He was arrested in early May in Linyi, a city in Shandong where much of the family lives, shortly after his uncle escaped more than 18 months of heavily guarded house arrest and fled to Beijing.

The family has maintained that Chen Kegui injured a few officials with a kitchen knife in self-defense, when they broke into his house in the middle of the night and attacked his family. Chen Guangfu told CNN that "the verdict was unfair" and that he feels "really disappointed" about it.

"Kegui was just defending himself," his father said, "and it was them breaking into our house and started beating us and trying to take us away."

Chen Guangcheng, in an interview with CNN's Richard Roth in New York, said authorities in China want to perpetuate fear.

"With regard to Chen Kegui, the way that they have handled his case ... in fact this is just the continuation of my own case," the activist said. "With this sentence, Chen Kegui is being made a scapegoat for my situation. Because before this, they tried many times to provoke me, but I didn't fall for their trick."

Authorities in China promised to guarantee the safety of his family and to open an investigation into "the harms my family and I suffered through illegal treatment for years in Shandong," Chen Guangcheng said.

His arrival in the United States on May 19 -- along with his wife and children -- brought an end to a diplomatic firestorm between Beijing and Washington that erupted after he fled from house arrest in Linyi in late April and hid inside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for a week.

In a video posted online after his escape, Chen addressed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, detailing grotesque abuses -- including repeated beatings -- he said he and his family had suffered at the hands of local authorities during captivity.

In the interview Friday, Chen Guangcheng said China has no choice but to change, but he was skeptical.

"Based on the information I have now, especially in light of Chen Kegui's case, I think the new leadership offers no reason for people to put any faith in them," said the activist, who is studying law at New York University.

Amnesty International called the conviction of Chen Kegui "appalling" and retribution for his uncle's escape.

"Amnesty advocates worked with Chen -- a true hero -- in his fight to win rights for China's poor and women and to demand his freedom when it was denied. Now, we will keep this fight going to demand Chen Kegui's freedom." Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.

Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said on his Twitter account that "Chen Kegui's trial failed to meet minimum standards of fair trial under domestic or international standards."

Chen Guangfu said his son has told him that he's "in good shape." He said the family was notified of his son's trial only 15 minutes before it began.

The sudden trial Friday also came as a surprise to Chen Kegui's lawyers, who said they became aware that it was happening only when they received calls about it from the news media, said Ding Xikui, one of the lawyers.

Chen Kegui was instead represented by a lawyer designated by the court, according to an official in the court's research office who gave his name only as Li.

His father gave a slightly different account.

According to him, local authorities had promised the family that it was free to hire lawyers for Chen Kegui. But when the family came up with the lawyers, his father said, the local court turned them down and designated two lawyers, Song Kuiyuan and Wang Haijun, to take over the case.

Chen Guangfu, the activist's older brother, said last month that he hadn't been allowed to see his incarcerated son since his arrest.

"There has never been any fairness in this case -- they ignored the facts and refused to let us appoint lawyers for Kegui in accordance with law," he said then. "The whole thing is their revenge against Guangcheng's escape, so I don't have any hope for a fair trial."

CNN's Dayu Zhang and journalist Connie Young in Beijing contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province on November 30, 2009.
Over 200 Chinese villagers in Sichuan province have signed a petition to banish a HIV-positive eight-year-old boy, state media reported.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane, forcing the Nanjing-bound plane to turn back to Bangkok.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 0503 GMT (1303 HKT)
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Like Beijing today, Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons.
December 6, 2014 -- Updated 0542 GMT (1342 HKT)
At the height of his power, Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0826 GMT (1626 HKT)
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0648 GMT (1448 HKT)
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 0855 GMT (1655 HKT)
Despite an anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past 12 months.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
A 24-hour Taipei bookstore is a hangout for hipsters as well as bookworms.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
ADVERTISEMENT