More than 500 Shenzhen lawyers signed an open letter calling for a retrial of human rights lawyer Liu Yao's case, his lawyer and local media said. Liu, who provided legal aid for farmers who had lost land in Paitou village in Dongyuan county, had appealed against his two-year jail term even though the county people's court had halved his original sentence on December 17, said rights activist Li Fangping, Liu's lawyer. Liu received a four-year sentence last June for damaging about 50,000 yuan (HK$56,700) worth of public property when he and about 30 villagers from Paitou tried to seek compensation for a hydroelectric plant built on the farmers' land. The sentence was reduced because the value of the assets damaged by Liu and the villagers was exaggerated at the first trial. Two villagers were also jailed. The New Express newspaper, based in Guangzhou, said 511 Shenzhen lawyers had signed the letter to Heyuan Municipal Intermediate People's Court calling for a retrial. Mr Li said the charges against Liu were groundless because the hydroelectric plant was an illegal project.