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Convicted Chinese protest leader renounces bribery confession after getting heavy sentence

Former Wukan village chief Lin Zuluan stood trial on Wednesday morning in an appeal in which he renounced a confession he made last month.

The appeal came after Lin confessed to charges of receiving bribes of 600,000 yuan (HK$693,000) in a Foshan Chancheng district court last month. Lin was sentenced to 37 months’ jail and fined 200,000 yuan.

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Wednesday’s hearing concluded just before noon but a verdict was not given and could be suspended until next week, according to sources close to Lin’s family.

A legal source close to the family said they were notified of the appeal hearing by the court only days before it was scheduled.

“Lin is fighting against the sentencing handed down in the first hearing as some of the accusations against him were untrue. His words in the first hearing were all staged,” the source said.

“It is highly unlikely for him to be exonerated, we are hoping his sentencing will not be increased.”

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The appeal, filed by Lin himself, was seen as a last-ditch effort to fight for justice and his family said they felt cheated by Guangdong authorities when Lin received a heavy sentence even though he agreed to cooperate with the government by confessing to charges.

After the first hearing last month, one of Lin’s three sons told reporters they were expecting to see Lin at home in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival, as they were under the impression Lin would receive a reprieve by confessing to the charges against him.

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Police presence outside the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court on Wednesday morning was lighter than at Lin’s first hearing last month.

But the entire main road leading to the court was sealed off with barriers since the previous evening. Plainclothes and uniformed policemen guarded side entrances.

When approached by reporters, court officials at the east gate said all seats in the court room were reserved. Reporters were asked to present their identification but were denied entry.

A policeman said Lin was in good shape and that his health was not grounds for concern. Police told reporters to watch out for an online statement after the hearing was concluded.

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Lin was taken from his home in June by armed police prior to a general assembly in which he planned to lead villagers to petition over land issues that had remained unresolved for years. He was accused of taking bribes and receiving kickbacks from village construction projects but Wukan villagers said they believed the charges were unfairly laid to paralyse Lin’s leadership.

Article source: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2027376/convicted-wukan-village-chief-renounces-confession