Newspaper article International New York Times

China to Prosecute Civil Rights Lawyer ; No Trial Date Yet Set; Beijing's Charges Include Inciting Ethnic Hatred

Newspaper article International New York Times

China to Prosecute Civil Rights Lawyer ; No Trial Date Yet Set; Beijing's Charges Include Inciting Ethnic Hatred

Article excerpt

Pu Zhiqiang will be on trial in Beijing on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and picking quarrels, prosecutors said, but they have not yet set a date.

One of China's best-known human rights lawyers, Pu Zhiqiang, will stand trial in Beijing on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and picking quarrels, prosecutors said on Friday. Their announcement came just over a year after the police detained Mr. Pu, making him one of the most prominent targets of the Chinese Communist Party's vigorous campaign against dissent.

The United States State Department recently called for Mr. Pu's release, and Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive in Beijing on Saturday for talks. But China's party-run legal system rarely abandons cases against politically contentious figures like Mr. Pu, and his trial is likely to end with a guilty verdict and a prison sentence.

A branch of the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate, or prosecutor's office, said in an announcement online that Mr. Pu would be tried for "inciting ethnic hatred" and for "picking quarrels and provoking incidents" in a series of comments he had made on the Internet.

"He brazenly insulted others, and the circumstances were vile and destructive to social order," the prosecutors said in the announcement. "He should be pursued for criminal culpability under the law."

Mr. Pu and his supporters have maintained that the case is a baseless, politically motivated attack on a lawyer who long irked officials by challenging them in court and online. His lawyers said Mr. Pu adamantly rejected the charges.

"Of course, he'll maintain that he's innocent and will continue to defend himself," Shang Baojun, one of Mr. Pu's two lawyers, said by telephone.

The prosecutors' announcement did not give a date for Mr. Pu's trial; a court will announce it later. Mr. Shang said that a trial could be two or three months away, and that he would meet with Mr. …

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