China sentences Chen Guangcheng's nephew after snap trial

Chen Kegui, the nephew of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, will spend more than three years in prison for assaulting men who broke into his house in April. His lawyers were barred from the four-hour trial.

Courtesy of Reuters/File
Chen Kegui, nephew of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, is seen in this undated file photograph provided by Chen Kegui's lawyer to Reuters. Chen Kegui, unexpectedly went on trial on Friday, will spend more than three years in prison for assaulting men who broke into his house in April.

A Chinese court Friday sentenced the nephew of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng to more than three years imprisonment for assault, after a four-hour trial from which lawyers for the defendant were barred.

Chen Kegui was jailed for having injured officials who burst into his house one night last April, apparently looking for his uncle, who had slipped out of his home nearby after 19 months of detention. Chen senior later sought refuge in the US Embassy in Beijing

Mr. Chen’s parents were given only four hours’ notice of the trial and also barred from entering the courtroom.

“I tried to get into the court, but a lot of plainclothes policemen blocked my way and told me to wait outside,” says Chen Guangfu, the defendant’s father, in a phone interview.

Chen Kegui had said before he was arrested that he had used a kitchen knife to defend himself against the men who had broken into his house and who were beating him up. He had initially been charged with “intentional homicide,” even though nobody had died in the incident.

“Kegui did not do anything wrong,” his mother said in video testimony posted on Friday to one of Chen Kegui’s lawyer’s blog. “If Kegui had not fought back that night he would have been beaten to death. I might have been killed as well.”

Chen Kegui had been held incommunicado for more than six months, and the lawyers whom his wife had retained were forbidden by the court to take the case. Instead, Chen Kegui was represented in court Friday by a state-appointed lawyer, Wang Haijun. 

“He was appointed by the government so he will work for the government, not for us,” Chen Kegui’s father said. “The sentence is too heavy, because legitimate self-defense should not be punished at all,” he added.

Chen Kegui’s lawyer apparently did not attempt to plead self-defense, according to an uncle, Chen Guangxin, who was present in court and who spoke to Chen Guangfu after the trial, breaking the news that his son had been sentenced to three years and three months in jail.

“I’m afraid the fact that my brother went to America has made this case harder for my son,” Chen Guangfu says. “He was charged with quite a common offense, intentional infliction of injury, but his case has dragged on for months. They are taking revenge on us.”

His son had told the court he would not appeal the sentence, says Chen Guangfu, citing his brother who had witnessed the trial, but he planned to consult lawyers “to see if we could still appeal even if Chen Kegui gives up.”

Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer, first ran into trouble for exposing cases of forced abortion in his home province of Shandong. In 2006, he was jailed for four years for “disrupting traffic and damaging property.” And after his release, he was illegally confined to his home in the village of Dongshigu by thugs and plainclothes policemen.

After escaping from his captors last April, Chen Guangcheng made his way to the US embassy, and is now studying at New York University. He has said since his arrival there that he feared the Chinese authorities would seek retribution against his relatives in China, including Chen Kegui.  

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to China sentences Chen Guangcheng's nephew after snap trial
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today