Civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang sentenced to 3 years for ‘provoking troubles, inciting ethnic hatred’ Published: 2015-12-22 10:50:25

Pu Zhiqiang, a civil rights lawyer, was sentenced to three years in prison with a three-year reprieve for "inciting ethnic hatred" and "picking quarrels and provoking troubles" by Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court on December 22, CCTV reported.

Previous report: Rights lawyer’s trial tests court’s autonomy

The trial of Pu Zhiqiang, a Chinese human rights lawyer, was held at Beijing No. 2  Intermediate People's Court at 9 am Monday morning, and concluded three hours later. The court announced that a sentence would be delivered at a later date.

Some of Pu's supporters, including a dozen Western diplomats, gathered outside the courthouse on the same day to express their support. According to Pu's lawyer, Pu stands accused of "inciting ethnic hatred" and "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." But some of the related evidence was not accepted by prosecutors. In the end, the evidence was narrowed down to seven of his Weibo posts. In this case, if he is found guilty, the final verdict won't be too severe.

Pu's defense lawyer pleaded innocence for his client. The demand to declare Pu's innocence is also the attitude of the West and his supporters. Therefore, whether he will be given a guilty verdict has become the focus of this case.

Among similar cases in recent years, the West has intervened the most in Pu's trial. Certain Chinese people are also active in expressing their voices. It means there is great pressure around the case, which will be a test for the court.

When the West and some Chinese people intervene in this way, except for values, they also have a political end, which is striving for a sentence of not guilty, making the Chinese judicial system feel embarrassed. 

However, the court must not be influenced by these forces. The more attention Pu's case garners, the more we need to safeguard the bottom line of judicial judgment. Judges should be firmly devoted to the law and evidence without distractions, and bring a final, pure legal judgment to the public and history. As long as it is a decision in accordance with the law, whatever the result is, it will not embarrass the judicial system.

Over the years, whenever an active dissident in China became involved in a trial, there will be a buzz in the Internet opinion field, with the West also stepping in. This is an inevitable process. Chinese authorities and mainstream society should not hold a grudge over it. The law needs to be debated. The most important thing is for judicial authorities to stick to their loyalty to the law.

China's development of its rule of law is widely recognized. We believe that even if there are certain "stake holders" who want to play tricks over the case, they won't be able to have their way. Hence, the possibility of Pu being judged by real lawful judgment is the highest. Some say that no matter what the sentence turns out to be, there will be a substantial amount of noise following it. This might be true. Yet noise and discontent are only temporary. As long as it is a victory for the law, the final victor will be the society that pursues the rule of law.


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