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Chinese Lawyer Freed After 2 Years

February 2, 2001

BEIJING (AP) _ A lawyer held for 26 months without trial has been freed, a case that highlights abuse by Chinese police _ and the growing willingness of state media to report on it.

Li Kuisheng protested his innocence in more than 20 appeals to courts and government offices all the way up to the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing, the Worker’s Daily said Friday.

His release came Jan. 4 after three top legal scholars also wrote China’s highest court and legislators took up his case, China’s parliament, the newpaper said.

Li was defending an official’s wife charged in a corruption case in Xingyang city, in the central province of Henan, when police arrested him Dec. 2, 1998, the paper said.

Three days later, they charged him with helping falsify documents in the case. In his appeals, Li said he was repeatedly beaten, thrown naked into the snow and kept awake for days by police trying to force him to confess, the newspaper said.

A police officer reached by phone in Xingyang confirmed Li’s arrest and release. The officer, who gave only her family name, Wang, said Li was not tortured.

Inquiries by city and provincial prosecutors in 1999 found no basis for the charges against Li, but Xingyang police refused to release him and filed new charges of tax evasion, the Worker’s Daily said.

Friday’s article was one of several chronicling unlawful arrest and torture by police that have appeared in the official media recently. Beijing has stepped up a campaign against corruption and other illegal acts by local officials amid fears that growing public disgust could erode communist rule.

Update hourly