Rights activists and lawyers on Wednesday hailed an overturned verdict in the case of a blind legal activist as a victory over corrupt officials.
“This is a success of the central party committee practicing rule of law,” said Li Jinsong, lawyer for Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught legal activist blinded by a childhood illness. “This is a success of the Chinese people fighting against corrupt officials and safeguarding the dignity of law.”
Chen and his supporters have been beaten, jailed and placed under house arrest since embarrassing local officials by unveiling forced abortions and sterilizations in eastern Shandong province last year.
At his trial, conducted by Judge Wang Jun in Yinan County People’s Court, Chen was deprived of his own legal counsel. He was sentenced in August to more than four years in prison for disrupting traffic and damaging property. Supporters said the charges were trumped up and noted that Chen was under guard or house arrest at the time of the incident in question.
Chen appealed his sentence to the Linyi City Intermediate Court, which decided Monday to overturn the verdict and send the case back to Yinan People’s Court to be retried. That trial could come in about six weeks, lawyers said.