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Another human rights lawyer was put on trial on Thursday. Foreign media were blocked from the hearing. This was the third trial of a prominent Chinese dissident during this holiday season.
This is Ni Yulan, a Chinese human rights lawyer. A decade ago, a brutal beating by police left her permanently disabled. But now, a court is accusing her and her husband of beating up employees at a hotel—a "black jail" police forced them to stay at. They've pleaded not guilty.
Foreign media were blocked from entering the trial on Thursday. But a spokesman read the charges from a prepared statement:
[Xicheng District Court Spokesman]:
"Defendants Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin are charged with provoking trouble, willfully damaging and possessing company property, as well as abusing other people repeatedly."
Ni has been banned from practicing law, and sent to prison twice. It's for her work defending the rights of people unfairly evicted from their homes.
This time, the court failed to reach a verdict. But Ni's daughter is concerned that she could still be sentenced to prison at some later date.
[Dong Xuan, Ni Yulan's Daughter]:
"Yes it's very possible, because she was sentenced to two years the second time. Now they've added new charges, it's very likely she will get more than three years."
Sentencing dissidents to prison while many foreign reporters are on Christmas holiday has become somewhat of a tradition in China. Rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was sentenced for "subversion" three days before Christmas in 2006. Human rights activist and now-Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo was tried two days before Christmas in 2009. And this year, two dissidents were separately given harsh nine and 10-year sentences within a few days of December 25.