China Prevents Lawyers from Representing Activist’s Nephew

Posted May 18th, 2012 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese human rights attorneys said Friday that authorities have blocked them from meeting the nephew of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, assigning two government-appointed lawyers instead.

Chen Kegui is being held on charges of “intentional murder” after he attacked intruders who broke into his home in eastern Shangdong province, apparently searching for his uncle.

Lawyers for the nephew have said a local Communist Party official was seriously injured in the fight in the early hours of April 27 and two others were slightly injured. It is unclear whether the official is actually dead.

Rights lawyers Si Weijiang and Deng Xikui say other attorneys who have offered to represent the nephew have been threatened or have had their law licenses seized.

Chen fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last month after escaping house arrest in Shangdong.

He left the embassy and entered a hospital for treatment, after agreeing to a deal reached by U.S. and Chinese authorities that would allow him to stay in a “safe” place in China and study law.

But he changed his mind hours later, saying his family had been threatened. Chen told Western reporters Thursday that he and his family will be issued passports to leave China within the next two weeks.

He said provincial security officials brought visa applications for him and his family to fill out the day before, and that passport photos were taken.