Voice of America, May 7, 2012
by Li Bao, Hong Kong
The nephew of blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng from Shandong province has been criminally detained by police. Sources say the authorities’ handling of the case of Chen Kegui ’s knife-wielding attack is directly related to the handling of Chen Guangcheng’s case by the Chinese and U.S. governments.
On Monday morning, Mo Zhixu, an independent Beijing-based writer who has been following Chen Guangcheng’s case for many years, sent a message on Twitter that Chen Kegui had already been placed under “criminal detention” and was currently being held at the Yinan County Detention Center. Chen Kegui’s parents, that is, Chen Guangcheng’s brother Chen Guangfu and his wife, had been sent home, the tweet said.
Mo told the Voice of America that he got the news form a reliable source who could not release it directly to the outside world. He said, “I can only tell you that the news is from someone I trust a lot and he’s a rights activist too. He was warned by the police not to release the news, so he asked me to do it for him.”
Defense lawyer: Someone will be sent to the detention center to visit Chen Kegui
Chen Kegui’s defense lawyer, Liu Weiguo, confirmed to the Voice of America that Chen Kegui was currently in police custody and that someone from his defense team would be sent to meet with him in the detention center in accordance with the law.
Liu Weiguo said, “First of all, we have the right to go to the detention center to see him and to learn about basic facts of the case and the criminal charge… on what charge (the authorities) have arrested him. We have already discussed this and a lawyer is about to go.”
At the end of last month, after blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng escaped from the illegal detention he had been placed under in his hometown of Dongshigu village in the town of Shuanghou, some people—led by town mayor and party secretary Zhang Jian—jumped over the wall of Chen’s nephew Chen Kegui’s home demanding he hand over Chen Guangcheng. A physical fight ensued, in which Chen Kegui in self-defense injured Zhang Jian with a knife, then fled the village. He has said in a phone conversation with the outside world that he had tried to turn himself into police, but ended up being chased by the police who attempted to kill him.
Over the past more-than-a- week, people have been worried that Chen Kegui was in danger for his life and they have been urging the authorities to handle his knifing case according to the law.
Chen Kegui’s case is highly sensitive and is related to the future of Chen Guangcheng
Mo Zhixu, who on Monday released the news about Chen Kengui’s criminal detention, said it was possible that the police had taken him into custody at a much earlier time but authorities had withheld the information for fear it would affect the handling of Chen Guangcheng’s case.
Mo said, “(He) was captured much earlier, that’s what I now suspect. But the information was not released all this time. It would affect the actions, speech and even the decision of whether to leave or stay of Chen Guangcheng himself. That’s why I think the information was so sensitive.”
Last Wednesday, Chen Guangcheng—accompanied by American officials—left the U.S. Embassy where he had been hiding for six days. After learning how the authorities had mistreated his family members, he quickly changed his mind about wanting to stay in China. Chen, who is currently still in Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, said that he was still worried about the safety of his family and relatives.
Observers say that local Shandong authorities were probably awaiting instructions from the central government and might handle Chen Kegui’s case after Chen Guangcheng has left China.
Chen Kegui’s defense lawyer Liu Weiguo said that authorities were restricting his freedom of movement as a defense lawyer, saying it was because of the highly sensitive nature of Chen Kegui’s case, but he is being helped by more than 10 lawyers from several other cities so that he can fulfill his lawyer’s duties according to the law.
Liu told the Voice of America that based on the preliminary information he has obtained, Chen Kegui inflicting injury should be considered legitimate self-defense. But he was not optimistic that the case could be judged with fairness and justice. Nonetheless, he thought the widespread international attention paid to Chen Guangcheng would to some extent have a monitoring effect on the authorities in how they handle this case.
Liu Weiguo said, “It will definitely have this kind of effect. Because if they handle it in the dark, the result would be too terrible to imagine.”
Mo Zhiyu, who is familiar with the treatment of Chen Guangcheng, also thinks that international attention to Chen Guangcheng’s case will be conducive to Chen Kegui receiving the kind of treatment he should receive in the detention center according to the law.
The Voice of America called the Yinan county detention center on Monday, but calls to the office phone and the cellphones of the two managers went unanswered.
The Chinese-language report on VOA is available here: http://www.voanews.com/chinese/news/20120507-chen-guangcheng-relatives-150401435.html