Mainland anti-corruption activist 'beaten by police'
An anti-corruption campaigner put on trial in what activists say is a crackdown on dissent was beaten by police while in detention, lawyers said yesterday.
Liu Ping , together with Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua , faces a possible five year prison sentence for "illegal assembly" after the trio photographed themselves displaying banners calling for government officials to disclose their assets.
Defence lawyers told the court in Xinyu , in the central province of Jiangxi , that some of Liu's testimony had been provided under duress.
"Police beat Liu while she was in the process of being detained and also when she was held in a detention centre," Pu Zhiqiang said. "We asked the court to exclude any evidence obtained by force."
One of Liu's attorneys, Si Weijiang , said he had raised in court the issue of police violence against his client.
More than 100 "hooligans" surrounded the court on Wednesday, jostling with lawyers in an attempt to prevent them from entering, he said. "We think they had official backing," Si said.
Liu, 48, an unemployed former steel worker, is associated with the New Citizen movement, a loose grouping of activists calling for reforms to the country's legal system, according to her daughter Liao Minyue . Liao said police smashed her mobile phone as she tried to take photographs outside the court.
Asset disclosure is seen by some advocates of reform as a key change that could help the mainland authorities to prevent graft. Calls for the change have intensified in the wake of reports of enormous wealth amassed by officials and their families.
The three suspects had pleaded not guilty to the charges and the trial was likely to continue today, lawyers said.
At least 15 other people involved in the New Citizen group had also been detained in recent months, according to the rights group Human Rights Watch.
Police on the mainland routinely coerce admissions of guilt and courts have a near-perfect conviction rate in criminal cases. The government has said it would work to reduce forced confessions.