A Hunan dissident charged with "inciting subversion of state power" following the death of democracy activist Li Wangyang was placed under "residential surveillance" at an undisclosed location yesterday - a move his lawyer says is designed to prevent him from challenging charges on behalf of his client.
Zhu Chengzhi, 62, was arrested last August on subversion charges and had been held at a Shaoyang police detention centre until yesterday.
His lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan , said Zhu's family received a notice yesterday about Zhu's "residential surveillance" - which allows the police to hold a suspect but not necessarily at his home. Both Shaoyang police and prosecutors refused to say where Zhu was being held.
"Because he's no longer at the detention centre, I have no way of seeing him to discuss challenging his charges, nor can I get access to files detailing his charges to prepare for a court hearing," Liu said.
Zhu was the first of about a dozen of Li's associates to speak out about Li's suspicious death in June, raising fears that others in similar detention or under house arrest could face the same fate.
Li, 62, was a labour activist in Hunan who was jailed for his support of the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in 1989, serving a total of 21 years behind bars for his activism.
He was found dead in a hospital ward in Shaoyang under suspicious circumstances on June 6, four days after Hong Kong Cable Television broadcast a defiant interview with him. He had lost most of his sight and hearing during years of mistreatment in detention.
His family, Zhu and other friends had refused to accept a police explanation that he hanged himself two days after the 23rd anniversary of the June 4 crackdown.
Liu said that he had learned that police and prosecutors had changed Zhu's confinement to house arrest but there had been no word on his subversion charges. He said Zhu had a place to live permanently in Shaoyang and should be allowed to stay at home if he was really under house arrest.
"Locking him up in an undisclosed location is a gross violation of the country's criminal law," Liu said.
Liu said that he would continue pushing police to find out Zhu's whereabouts in order to fight the charges.