China jails Sichuan quake activist for subversion

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Beijing, Feb.9 (ANI): China has jailed Sichuan quake activist for five years after investigating him for shoddy construction that contributed to the deaths of thousands of schoolchildren in 2008.

Tan Zuoren, 55, a long-time activist in south western Sichuan province, was charged with "inciting subversion of state power" because of essays in which he criticized the bloody crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

But his friends and his lawyers were in little doubt that Tan's efforts to document and produce an independent report on the collapse of school buildings in the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, when some 90,000 people died, were behind the sentence.

His lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, told The Times: "The court can do whatever it likes. His crime was inciting subversion of the state, but they did not have a scrap of evidence. In fact Tan Zuoren had only voiced differing views about June 4 and written some essays over the course of 20 years. After 20 years he is to go to jail. This is tragic and a cause of much anger."

Pu said: "The court is violating the constitution since Tan Zuoren was merely exercising his right to freedom of speech."

Tan was put on trial in the provincial capital, Chengdu, last August.

In China, most verdicts are announced within hours or days of the trial, but in this case the court waited until the final day of the legally stipulated period before passing sentence.

The sentence against Tan was the maximum possible for his crime. (ANI)

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