China sentences quake activist to 5 years' jailBEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court Tuesday sentenced an activist who investigated the deaths of thousands of schoolchildren in the country's massive 2008 earthquake to five years in jail for inciting subversion of state power, the man's lawyer said.
BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court Tuesday sentenced an activist who investigated the deaths of thousands of schoolchildren in the country's massive 2008 earthquake to five years in jail for inciting subversion of state power, the man's lawyer said.
Attorney Pu Zhiqiang said activist Tan Zuoren was convicted of the charge Tuesday by the Chengdu Intermediate Court. Tan's trial in August had concluded with no ruling, while police detained and threatened the man's supporters.
Tan's supporters say they believe the authorities were trying to silence him for his investigation into the collapse of schools in the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck in Sichuan province in May 2008, leaving almost 90,000 dead or missing. Tan estimated at least 5,600 students were among the dead.
The charge of inciting subversion of state power is believed linked to his quake investigation as well as essays he wrote about the 1989 student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square that ended in a deadly military crackdown. Beijing routinely uses such broad and vaguely defined accusations to imprison dissidents, sometimes for years.
Pu said Tan would appeal the court's decision.
``Tan thinks one of the reasons behind this case is that he was leading an investigation into the poorly built schools after the earthquake, which would have embarrassed the local government in Chengdu,' Pu said.
Critics allege that shoddy construction, enabled by corruption, caused several schools to collapse while buildings nearby remained intact — a politically sensitive theory that the government has tried to quash.
In a related case, the same court rejected the appeal of Huang Qi, a prominent dissident who had criticized the government's response to the Sichuan earthquake.
Huang had appealed against a three-year jail sentence he was handed in November on the charge of illegally possessing state secrets, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said Tuesday.
Huang, founder of a human rights Web site, was detained in June 2008.