Rights activist Guo Feixiong appeared in a Guangzhou court yesterday for the first and only hearing on charges of illegal business activity over the publication of a book he edited about a political scandal in Shenyang . After a three-hour trial in the Tianhe District People's Court, Guo's wife, Zhang Qing, said she expected her husband to be given a heavy sentence. Guo, also known as Yang Maodong, has been detained in Guangdong and Liaoning for almost 11 months and was charged with illegally publishing 26,098 books, valued at 260,980 yuan, in Shenyang in 2001. He has maintained his innocence and last month went on a hunger strike in protest against his alleged abuse in custody. Ms Zhang said that, according to the law, Guo could be ordered to serve more than five years in jail. 'But the lawyers told me that the testimony provided by three witnesses was all the evidence the officials had and those witnesses contradicted each other,' she said. 'There was not a single piece of paper that could prove the accusation against my husband.' She said that, in a statement at the beginning of the hearing, Guo said he no longer recognised the judiciary's authority because of the continuous 'cruel and inhumane' treatment he had suffered in custody, which included electric shocks to his genitals. He said he had complained to the prosecutors many times but received no response. 'He also said that the trial was completely a case of political persecution because 90 per cent of questions he was asked in custody related to his activities in Taishi village [in Guangdong], not illegal publishing,' Ms Zhang said. Guo was heavily involved in rural protests in Guangdong in 2005 before being taken into police custody in September. He gave legal advice to disgruntled Taishi villagers who were planning to vote out their elected chief over allegations of corruption in a land sale. Ms Zhang said that after Guo made his statement he remained silent, refusing to answer questions from the judge and prosecutors. 'The procurators suggested the judges take my husband's 'rude' attitude into consideration when making a decision. They want severe punishment,' she said. Ms Zhang said the hearing would be the only one for her husband and the verdict was expected this month.