Chinese billionaire farmer who praised lawyers sentenced to 18 years – .

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Chinese billionaire farmer who praised lawyers sentenced to 18 years – .


BEIJING – A prominent Chinese pig farmer who was arrested after praising lawyers during a crackdown on legal activists by President Xi Jinping’s government was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison for organized an attack on officials and other offenses.

Sun Dawu, president of the Dawu Agriculture Group, was among 20 defendants tried in Gaobeidian, southwest of Beijing, in Hebei province. They were arrested after Dawu employees tried in August 2020 to stop a state-owned company from demolishing a company building.

Sun was also fined 3.1 million yuan ($ 480,000), the Gaobeidian People’s Court said in a statement.

Sun was convicted of rounding up people to attack state organs, obstructing public affairs, arguing, sabotaging production, illegally exploiting agricultural land, illegally occupying farmland and illegally taking public deposits, the court said.

Other defendants were sentenced to terms ranging from one to 12 years, according to a statement from the Dawu group. He said the company was ordered to repay 1 billion yuan ($ 155 million) of investments that were improperly raised.

Sun became known nationally in 2003 when he was charged with illegal fundraising after soliciting investments for his business from friends and neighbors. The case sparked public support for Sun.

Since then, Sun has praised lawyers helping the public at a time when prominent legal figures have been jailed by Xi’s government. Sun’s lawyer in the 2003 case, Xu Zhiyong, disappeared in February 2020. Other activists say he was charged with treason.

Sun was charged with provoking feuds, a charge used against workers and other activists, when he was arrested in August 2020.

The trial was officially open to the public, but only one bystander from each accused’s family and 10 from the company were allowed due to coronavirus restrictions, defense lawyers said earlier.

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