November 30, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - The nephew of Chen Guangcheng has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for defending himself against government agents who invaded his house in the middle of the night searching for his uncle, after his uncle’s escape from house arrest.

In late April, Chen Guangcheng made a daring escape to the U.S. embassy, before gaining permission to come to the United States to study after several days of tense negotiations between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

The blind lawyer, who exposed China’s brutal forced abortion policy, said that shortly after his escape that a group of “thugs” had invaded the house of his nephew Chen Kegui, and beat him and his wife and son “ruthlessly.” Chen Kegui reportedly defended himself and his family with a knife, injuring three of the agents.

The nephew was originally charged with “intentional homicide,” but that charge was later changed to “intentional injury.”

Chen Kegui’s relatives were reportedly only told about the trial hours before it took place. Meanwhile, the government had rejected all of the lawyers Chen Kegui’s family put forward to defend him.

One of those lawyers, Teng Biao, expressed doubts that the government-appointed lawyers would represent their client. “They will do what the court wants them to do,” Teng said. “They left such short notice for Chen Kegui’s family so that they would be unprepared to react. Lawyers like us, who could give advice or help, had no time to fly there to support them.”

Teng also said that no one has been allowed to see Chen Kegui since his arrest: “No one has a clue about his condition.”

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Chen Guangcheng condemned the ruling against his nephew, telling the Associated Press that “there is no doubt that this is a kind of retaliation against me.”

“This is a case that tramples on the rule of law,” he said. “It is a declaration of war against fairness and justice in the world. I absolutely cannot accept this and am very, very angry.”

Since his escape, Chen has repeatedly expressed concerns for his family members who remain behind in China.

Chen Kegui’s father expressed his dismay over the ruling. “I don’t think that the verdict is fair. What my son did at the time is for self-defence, but for that he is now sentenced to prison for three years and three months,” he said, according to the BBC.

“He should have been found not guilty of any crimes because what he did to those who broke into his house [in] the middle of the night was for his self defence.”

One of Chen Kegui’s relatives who was presented outside the courtroom after the trial, expressed concerns that Kegui had said he would not appeal the ruling. “What Chen Kegui said in court is so surprising,” said Hu Jia. “I don’t think a normal person would say he wouldn’t appeal. He must be brainwashed or be under big pressure.”

Hu told Reuters that “the court suddenly decided to hold the case with only a few hours notice.”

“This is so there would not be time for supporters or media to go down there and gather at the court house,” Hu said.

Reggie Littlejohn, a human rights activist who fought for years for Chen Guangcheng’s release, said that Chen Kegui’s conviction “is consistent with the lack of due process that has characterized not only the handling of his own case, but also that of his uncle, Chen Guangcheng.” 

“It also signals the loss of any expectation that the Chinese Communist Party will make good on its promise to Chen Guangcheng that they will bring the perpetrators of violence against his family to justice.”

“In my opinion,” said Littlejohn, “this is the Communist Party’s way of retaliating against Chen Guangcheng himself.  Since they can no longer persecute Chen Guangcheng himself, they are taking revenge on his nephew.  Furthermore, it appears they are sending a message to other Chinese human rights activists:  even if you manage to escape to the West, you will never be free, because we will retaliate against your family. 

“In this way they are continuing to use Chen Guangcheng as an example, in their attempt to intimidate those who would stand for human rights in China.”

Prior to his house arrest, Chen Guangcheng was imprisoned for four years and three months for exposing the violent measures used to enforce China’s one-child policy, including forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations that in his county alone in 2005 numbered 130,000. During his imprisonment and house arrest he repeatedly suffered brutal beatings.