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China rights lawyer gets suspended three-year sentence

China rights

One of China’s most celebrated human rights lawyers was handed a suspended three-year prison sentence on Tuesday, state broadcaster CCTV said, after posting comments critical of the ruling Communist Party.

Pu Zhiqiang was sentenced by Beijing’s No 2 Intermediate People’s Court for “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

He accepted the ruling and will not appeal, CCTV said.

The ruling was a three-year prison sentence that was deferred for three years, but observers said the way it was constructed means it is unlikely he will be jailed.

Pu, who has represented labour camp victims and dissident artist Ai Weiwei, was detained a year and a half ago in a nationwide crackdown on critics.

The case centred on seven posts Pu made on social media between 2011 and 2014.

At least one woman outside the courthouse where the verdict was read was taken away by police in tears as she screamed that Pu was innocent.

Security personnel — those in civilian dress and uniformed officers — also pushed and shouted at activists and journalists outside the court house.

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