Chinese Court Upholds Tax Charges Against Dissident Ai Weiwei

Posted September 27th, 2012 at 1:15 am (UTC-5)
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A Chinese court has upheld a $2.4 million tax-evasion fine against dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who says the charges are politically motivated.

Speaking to reporters outside a Beijing court Thursday, the internationally recognized artist called the ruling “shameless,” saying his lawyers were not allowed to present his case.

“Moreover, they didn't even inform us of today's court session. They just informed us by phone. The law requires that they give a written statement of notice three days in advance, so our lawyers had no time to come. Some are away on work, or in France, so we had to come as representatives.”

It was the second time that Ai had asked the court to overturn the Beijing tax bureau's fine against his company, Fake Cultural Department Limited, which markets his art.

Ai, who said it appears his company will now have to pay the fine, said the outcome shows there is “no fair justice in China.”

“People say, 'You knew the result of this from the beginning.' That's true. The result today is not the result we should have been given. China should be changing every day, but in truth that is not happening. We are still living under a rotten legal system. This system cannot have impartiality or justice.”

His supporters say the case is part of the government's effort to muzzle the Chinese government's most famous critic, who speaks out about human rights via the media and through his artwork.

Ai spent 81 days in detention last year as part of a roundup of dissidents. His arrest sparked an international outcry. Since his release, he has been under constant guard and his movements severely limited.

Many of his fans contributed money to his legal expenses, some by folding it into paper planes flung over the walls of the courtyard of his home.

Ai's sculpture, photography and installations are exhibited worldwide.