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Court to review Wu libel trial

A COURT is to review the libel trial of a man who used the Internet to expose alleged land requisition problems.

The Erdos Intermediate People's Court in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region said it had begun an internal review to determine whether the libel trial of Wu Baoquan followed correct procedures.

Wu was jailed for two years at his appeal in February - a sentence double the one-year term given at his first trial.

The court upheld the second sentence on April 17 and that sparked a wave of online criticism.

An article on the Website of People's Daily questioned why the police had been pursuing a man only because he exposed local land requisition problems.

Internet chatrooms such as Tianya and Baidu received thousands of posts supporting Wu and accusing the government of corruption.

"The increased penalty was an obvious retaliation toward the petitioner, because he had appealed," said Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer from the Beijing Qijian Law Office. He said no new charges were given to explain why the penalty was increased.

The court declined to give further details of the trial review.

Wu, 39, was charged with libeling Yun Feng, former secretary of the Erdos municipal committee of the Communist Party of China, in an online article on September 7, 2007, accusing the official of responsibility for a land dispute that allegedly infringed farmers' rights.

Wu was detained on September 17 and held in custody for 10 days.

Wu's lawyer, Zhao Peng, said the charge was flawed since Wu did not fabricate the land issue and his posts had caused no harm. Yun Feng had, in fact, since been promoted.

Wu's articles claimed that the local government had taken more than 3,333 hectares of land from farmers in Kangbashi Village on the outskirts of Erdos for low prices and auctioned it off at higher prices.


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