Ten people have been sentenced to prison for illegally detaining petitioners to the central government in Beijing in ‘black jails’, according to state media.
Al Jazeera reports:
The group rounded up 11 petitioners from Henan province in April 2012, Xinhua news agency said, and illegally detained them in a courtyard in Beijing for several days.
Tuesday’s court ruling is an apparent blow on attempts by local governments to cover up abuses.
The defendants, who were also from Henan, received terms of between six months and two years.
The court in Beijing said they had violated the petitioners’ rights. The 10 defendants were also ordered to pay compensation to those they detained, the Xinhua report said.
The existence of black jails has been an open secret in China for years, but is a reality rarely acknowledged by the government. A number of ‘interceptors’, who block petitioners from lodging complaints with the Beijing Party authorities, were reported to have been jailed in December 2012, though these reports were later denied. Her reporting on black jails was one of the reasons Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan was kicked out of the country, leaving the network with no reporters inside mainland China.