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China earthquake activist sentenced

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Times Wire Reports

A Chinese activist who sought to document shoddy construction that contributed to deaths in China’s devastating 2008 earthquake has been sentenced to five years in prison for subversion, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Tan Zuoren was formally accused of inciting subversion of state power in e-mailed comments about the bloody crackdown on June 4, 1989, on pro-democracy demonstrators around Tiananmen Square.

But Tan’s supporters and Amnesty International say he was detained because he planned to issue an independent report on the collapse of school buildings during the Sichuan earthquake, in which about 70,000 people died.

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Tan, a literary editor and environmentalist, was arrested in March 2009 on charges of subverting state authority, Amnesty International said.

The rights organization said his dog was stabbed and his computer stolen as well.

His trial in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, was adjourned in August without a verdict.

His lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, said Tan would appeal, noting that he received the maximum sentence.

Tan’s earthquake activism was not included in the case, Pu said, adding that he was the first person in a decade to be sentenced for actions related to Tiananmen Square.

China’s official statistics show that 5,335 children died in the quake, which also left 5 million people homeless.

In many towns, schools collapsed, burying children inside, while surrounding residential buildings remained standing.

Court officials refused to confirm the verdict.


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