Activist Chen's nephew jailed 'in retaliation'


China has sentenced the nephew of the blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng to more than three years in jail after a hurried, half-day trial yesterday.

The sentencing of Chen Kegui is seen as retaliation by local officials angered by his uncle's daring escape from house arrest in April. The activist fled to the US embassy and set off a diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Washington.

The Yinan County People's Court in Shandong Province convicted Chen Kegui, 32, of assaulting officials who stormed into his house looking for his uncle, and sentenced him to three years and three months' imprisonment.

Chen Guangcheng, who now lives in New York, said his nephew acted in self-defence, as would anyone whose house had been raided by armed men in the middle of the night.

"This is a case that tramples on the rule of law," he said. "It is a declaration of war against fairness and justice in the world. I absolutely cannot accept this and am very, very angry. There is no doubt that this is a kind of retaliation against me."

Since Chen Kegui disappeared into police custody in May, local authorities have not officially notified his family about the prosecution, nor have they let family members see him or hire lawyers to defend him. They were also not allowed into court.