China rejects village official's lawsuit against labor sentence

Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:06am EST
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court on Tuesday rejected a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit filed by a village official against the authorities in the southwestern city of Chongqing for sentencing him to a labor camp after he criticized the government, his lawyer said.

Ren Jianyu's treatment generated a storm of criticism from Chinese Internet users and even state media, as well as reviving debate over freedom of speech and China's much-maligned "re-education through labor" system.

A Chongqing court dismissed the lawsuit filed by Ren against the Chongqing Re-education through Labour Committee, which sentenced him to two years in a labour camp in September last year, said Ren's lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang.

"It was dismissed, we will appeal," Pu told Reuters by telephone. "They said we exceeded the time limit for filing a lawsuit - we should have sued within three months."

Ren, 25, was sentenced for posting online messages that called for the downfall of the party's "dictatorship".

He was released on Monday after serving only about half his term following a public outcry.

Ren had forwarded photographs of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao online with the words "down with the Chinese Communist Party" on them after a July 2011 train crash near the eastern city of Wenzhou, Pu said.

Ren had wanted to criticize the leadership for the poor official response to the deadly crash, the lawyer said.   Continued...