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China 15 October 2003

Call for clemency for dissident He Depu

Reporters Without Borders today appealed for clemency on humanitarian grounds for dissident He Depu, tried yesterday by a Beijing court which now has 40 days to announce its verdict and pass sentence. The circumstances of the trial, which lasted only two hours and denied the most basic rights of defence, suggest that the sentence could heavy. He appeared to be in very poor health in court.

"He Depu is seriously ill and has been the victim of ill-treatment while in prison," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said. "Keeping him in detention could prove fatal." He is accused of collaborating with the banned China Democracy Party and of using the Internet to distribute messages "inciting subversion."

He’s wife, Jia Jianying, the only person aside from his lawyer allowed to attend the trial, told Reporters Without Borders that He was constantly interrupted when he tried to talk during the hearing, especially about the ill-treatment he has undergone in prison. Except at night-time, He was forced to stand upright for 85 days. He has lost a lot of weight and his health has deteriorated seriously. His wife said he has a liver ailment and his condition is very worrying.

Jia received no news of He from the moment of his arrest on 4 November 2002 until his trial. When arresting him, police told her they were just taking him for "a walk."

He was born on 28 October 1956. He took part in the democracy wall movement in 1979 and founded the magazine Beijing Youth, which was subsequently banned. He helped found the China Democracy Party, also outlawed, and was detained several times for his political activities. He lost his job with the Social Sciences Academy after standing as a candidate in local elections in 1990.




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