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China to try blind rural activist

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, July 7 (Reuters) China will try a blind rural activist whose campaign against forced abortions attracted worldwide attention, his lawyer told Reuters today.

Chen Guangcheng, from eastern China's Shandong province, will go on trial there on July 17 on charges of disrupting traffic and destroying property following a February protest in his home Dongshigu village, defence lawyer Li Jinsong said.

Chen had been placed under house arrest for almost 200 days last year after drawing international attention to claims that officials in Linyi city in Shandong had imposed late-term abortions and other coercive family planning measures.

Li said he and other defence attorneys had been prevented from visiting Chen's home village and family and from speaking to potential witnesses. Previously, Li also complained of threats and intimidation by hired thugs around Chen's village.

''That's going to make it even more difficult to effectively defend Chen Guangcheng,'' Li said. ''The defence and prosecution sides aren't being given an even playing field.'' REUTERS AD PC1210

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