By John-Henry Westen

Chen-GuangchengBEIJING, August 24, 2006 ( – The farcical trial of 35-year-old Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese human rights activist who has made known China’s brutal forced abortion practices has ended with Chen being sentenced to four years and three months in prison.ÂÂ The circumstances around the trial and the brutality exhibited by officials, or those hired by them, have demonstrated once again the tyrannical methods of the Chinese government.

Chen’s supporters say his conviction on the charges of “wilful destruction of public property” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic” was groundless and one of his lawyers has said the trial was “illegal” and that Chen will appeal the ruling.

Since mid 2005 Chen and his family members have been regularly beaten by hired thugs and kept under house arrest. Even though under house arrest authorities were unsatisfied since local supporters of Chen were demonstrating in his support regularly.Â

Chen was at one point transferred (relatives believed he was kidnapped) from his home to a detention centre with no news to his family of his whereabouts for three months.

The date for his trial was altered regularly and suddenly making it very difficult to coordinate a defence. However, the most obvious foul play occurred just days ago as his legal team of three lawyers were arrested the night day prior to his trial on charges of stealing a wallet. Two were released after questioning and the third detained and released hours after the trial ended.

According to Radio Free Asia, at the trial the two court-appointed lawyers voiced no objection to his charges.

The most complete report on the case is available from Jennifer Chou, the director of Radio Free Asia’s Mandarin Service. See Chou’s full report here: