Brother-in-law of Chinese Nobel winner jailed for 11 years

Sun Jun 9, 2013 2:21am EDT
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By Michael Martina

HUAIROU, China (Reuters) - A Chinese court on Sunday sentenced the brother-in-law of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison on charges of fraud in a case that rights activists have called another example of official retribution on the Liu family.

Supporters of Liu Hui say his case was trumped up, aimed at thwarting the increasing attention by the rights community on the plight of Liu Xia, who has remained under effective house arrest since her husband Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Prize in 2010.

The court in Huairou, a one-hour drive northeast of Beijing, convicted Liu Hui, a manager in a real estate company in the southern city of Shenzhen, on charges of defrauding a man called Zhang Bing of 3 million yuan ($490,000) with another colleague, lawyer Mo Shaoping told reporters.

"As Liu Hui's defense attorney, I definitely do not approve of this verdict, because we see this fundamentally as a civil issue, and it fundamentally does not constitute criminal fraud. Also, there is not sufficient evidence," Mo said.

Liu Hui has maintained his innocence, according to his lawyers.

In a rare statement to media, a weeping Liu Xia told reporters from the front passenger seat of her car as she drove away from the courthouse that she was extremely angry with the verdict and vowed to launch an appeal.

"I absolutely cannot accept this. This is simply persecution," she said. "This is completely an illegal verdict."

Liu Xia said she had "completely lost hope" in the government.   Continued...

Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, talks to journalists after a trial outside a court in the Huairou district of Beijing June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic