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China sentences Chen Guangcheng's nephew after snap trial

Chen Kegui, the nephew of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, will spend more than three years in prison for assaulting men who broke into his house in April. His lawyers were barred from the four-hour trial.

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A Chinese court Friday sentenced the nephew of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng to more than three years imprisonment for assault, after a four-hour trial from which lawyers for the defendant were barred.

Chen Kegui was jailed for having injured officials who burst into his house one night last April, apparently looking for his uncle, who had slipped out of his home nearby after 19 months of detention. Chen senior later sought refuge in the US Embassy in Beijing

Mr. Chen’s parents were given only four hours’ notice of the trial and also barred from entering the courtroom.

“I tried to get into the court, but a lot of plainclothes policemen blocked my way and told me to wait outside,” says Chen Guangfu, the defendant’s father, in a phone interview.

Chen Kegui had said before he was arrested that he had used a kitchen knife to defend himself against the men who had broken into his house and who were beating him up. He had initially been charged with “intentional homicide,” even though nobody had died in the incident.

“Kegui did not do anything wrong,” his mother said in video testimony posted on Friday to one of Chen Kegui’s lawyer’s blog. “If Kegui had not fought back that night he would have been beaten to death. I might have been killed as well.”

Chen Kegui had been held incommunicado for more than six months, and the lawyers whom his wife had retained were forbidden by the court to take the case. Instead, Chen Kegui was represented in court Friday by a state-appointed lawyer, Wang Haijun. 

“He was appointed by the government so he will work for the government, not for us,” Chen Kegui’s father said. “The sentence is too heavy, because legitimate self-defense should not be punished at all,” he added.

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