China court sentences trio for disturbing social order

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/27 8:25:51

A trio who organized strikes were found guilty of disrupting the peace Monday and handed suspended sentences ranging from 18 months to three years by a court in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province.

Zeng Feiyang was handed a four-year suspended sentence, of which he will have to serve three years should he fall afoul of the law in the four year period. Tang Huanxing and Zhu Xiaomei were each given 18-month sentences suspended for two years.

"The defendants ignored national laws and organized mass gatherings that disturbed social order. Their acts, of a severe nature, resulted in an enterprise being suspended and led to grave losses," said a statement by the people's court of Panyu District.

The trio had all previously worked at a support center for migrant workers, which was co-founded by Zeng and was closed by the industry and commerce authority in 2007. Despite the closure, Zeng continued to organize "rights activities" in the name of the support center.

According to the court, Zeng led the center and its work and managed those below him. Tang, who joined the organization in 2014, was responsible for online publicity for the center, and Zhu was in charge of managing migrant workers.

All three pled guilty and chose not to appeal.

In his statement given during the trial, Zeng admitted that he had received funding and training from "some overseas organizations hostile to China, and organized workers to resort to extreme means to safeguard their interests and blow things out of proportion to hype up the consequences."

A report from the Ministry of Public Security on Monday said a certain "overseas organizations had provided the center with over 700,000 yuan (about 105,000 US dollars) annually since 2010," without naming the group.

In total, Zeng received more than 5 million yuan from "multiple overseas groups and foreign embassies," it said.

The majority of the money was misappropriated by Zeng, it continued, adding that Zeng had used the money to purchase a car and two properties, one of them in the name of his brother-in-law.

In return for the financial assistance, the support center reported on its daily operations to overseas organizations, which also sent personnel to assist in the management of the center and the "rights activities," the report quoted Tang as saying.

"On the surface, we seem to be fighting for workers's rights, but the real intention was to expand our influence, particularly overseas," Tang said, "[...] this helped with applications by the center for funding from abroad."

According to the court, the three confessed to their crimes after they had been arrested, and all were first offenders and repented, facts that influenced the lighter penalties.

In his final statement, Zeng bowed to the court and expressed his "deep regret."

"I accepted training and funding from overseas organizations hostile to China, and, at their request, incited and organized workers to protect their rights in an extreme way," Zeng said.

He said his actions had intended to "blow up the events and create influence."

Zeng admitted that he had received large amounts of money from overseas organizations and had been touted as "the star of labor movement."

"My selfish desires were excessive and I did not repent even after the 'center' was closed," he said.

Zeng agreed that his behavior had damaged the enterprise, and was against the law and that he had been used as a tool by overseas organizations to cause disorder in China.

He apologized for the losses caused by his crimes.

"I hope that others will take my case as a lesson and not be conned by such organizations," Zeng said, calling on workers to protect their rights through legal means and channels.

In Tang's final statement, he took the opportunity to thank the police and judicial staff.

"I was encouraged by Zeng to join the 'center' and took part in organizing the events under Zeng's instructions," Tang said.

Tang said he was tasked with publicizing the agenda to incite workers not to accept the terms from the enterprise.

"I will keep a sober mind in the future and will not be fooled again," he said.

Zhu said in her statement that she was an ordinary worker at the enterprise and had met Zeng during a rights protection event before joining the "center." She was sent to receive training overseas and had accepted their practices and participated in organizing activities.

She said that she came to realize the seriousness of her crimes and called on her fellow workers to protect their rights and interests in accordance with the law.

According to the court statement, during the trial the two sides fully expressed their views on the facts and sentences of the defendants' crimes.

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