Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissident/former literature professor/the reason getting a visa to Norway is a bitch, has moved to request a retrial on the eve of his fifth year in prison. Liu has apparently “never accepted the guilty verdict” after his 2009 sentencing, and has already lost one appeal in 2010.
The major press has been covering Liu’s move, and here are the highlights:
Wall Street Journal: Mr. Liu’s decision to seek a retrial was also motivated in part by talk of legal reform that earned mention last week in a major reform blueprint issued following a meeting of top Communist Party leaders. In the document, the country’s new leadership said China would “guarantee that judicial and prosecutorial powers are exercised according to the law, independently and fairly” by improving management of the judicial system at the provincial and lower levels.
The Guardian: “This is going to be decided at the highest level of authority – I assume the Politburo – as will any decision about him … It was a political decision to put him in jail in the first place; it will be a political decision to do anything with him.”
[Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch] added that there was little international pressure, with most western countries proving extremely shy on the subject.
“If Beijing is not paying a price for putting him in jail … they have no incentive to release him.”
South China Morning Post: The complaint seeking a retrial would likely have slim chances for success. But lawyer Mo Shaoping said Liu’s family no longer feels it has anything to lose by challenging the conviction and that his attorneys hope to test recent pledges by China’s ruling Communist Party to make the country’s judicial system more independent.
It would certainly be an unexpected twist if Liu were suddenly granted a new trial; perhaps some bored Politburo bureaucrat will go wild-card on us. But maybe (probably, almost surely) not.
[Image via City Journal]