Leading China activist to be sentenced on Sunday as others go on trial
HONG KONG (REUTERS) - A Beijing court will sentence prominent Chinese rights activist Xu Zhiyong on Sunday in the highest-profile dissident trial since 2009, as authorities target rights defenders nationwide with another activist standing trial in Guangzhou.
Xu's lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, said he had been notified in writing by authorities as early as Wednesday when Xu's trial kicked off, that he would be sentenced on Sunday in one of the most closely-watched dissident cases in years.
"This means that even before the trial, the court had already communicated this and that they had already discussed what the verdict would be and the timing of the sentencing," Zhang told Reuters by telephone.
Zhang said he believed the swift sentencing suggested authorities wanted politically sensitive cases like Xu's to be closed ahead of the March meeting of China's rubber stamp parliament, the National People's Congress.