BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities are putting the nephew of legal activist Chen Guangcheng on trial Friday in a case widely seen as retaliation by local officials angered by Chen’s daring escape from house arrest earlier this year.
Chen Guangcheng slipped out of his tightly guarded village in northeastern China in April, fleeing to the U.S. Embassy and setting off a diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Washington. The activist, who is blind, now lives in New York.
Chen’s nephew Chen Kegui, 32, faces charges that he assaulted officials who stormed into his house looking for the activist and will stand trial at the Yinan County People’s Court on Friday afternoon, said his father, Chen Guangfu. The court confirmed the timing of Chen Kegui’s trial.
The charge of “intentional injury” centers on a clash between Chen Kegui and local officials who burst into his home looking for Chen Guangcheng after his escape. Chen Kegui allegedly hacked at the officials with knives after he and his parents had been beaten.
Chen Guangcheng, in an interview from his home in New York where he has been studying English and law, said he was worried about his nephew’s fate in the hands of China’s opaque judicial system.
“This has shown clearly to the whole world that people should not pin even the littlest bit of hope on this system,” Chen told The Associated Press. Chen said authorities in his hometown were acting “unreasonably, illegally and in violation of humanity.”
Chen’s flight from abusive house arrest in Shandong and into the protection of U.S. diplomats — which led to an agreement with Beijing to let him study in the U.S. accompanied by his wife and children — exposed the impunity of local officials and embarrassed the central government.
Supporters of Chen, who exposed forced abortions and other wrongdoing by local officials, fear that his relatives are at risk of retribution from local officials angry at Chen’s escape.
Critics and the activist’s supporters say that the case against Chen Kegui has been riddled with irregularities.
In the months since Chen Kegui disappeared into police custody, Yinan authorities have not officially notified his family about the prosecution nor issued an indictment or other official documentation to them. Officials have not let family members see Chen Kegui or hire their own lawyers to defend him, saying instead that Chen had accepted legal aid and court-appointed lawyers.
Chen Guangfu said he learned about the opening of his son’s trial when the officially appointed lawyer called him Friday morning. “From the very beginning, they have not told us anything about the case,” he said.
He stood by his son’s innocence. “In our view he was acting completely in self-defense. They can say whatever they want, but that is how we see it,” Chen Guangfu said. It was unclear if he would be allowed to attend his son’s trial, but he said he would go to the courthouse, located in the county seat, an hour and a half by bus from his village.
Associated Press reporter Isolda Morillo contributed to this report.
More Related Stories
- Illinois' fracking and coal rush is a national crisis
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11