China Denies Lawyer for Chen's Nephew
Chen Kegui charged with 'homicide' though no one was killed
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2012 9:46 AM CDT
Chen Guangcheng, center, holds hands with U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, at a hospital in Beijing, Wednesday, May 2, 2012.   (AP Photo/U.S. Embassy Beijing Press Office, File)
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(Newser) – The Chinese government has denied Chen Kegui his choice of lawyers, saying he must use a pair of government-appointed attorneys in his "intentional homicide" trial. Chen was slapped with that charge because he brandished a knife on April 27 when authorities burst into his home after his uncle's escape. No one was actually killed, but under Chinese law he could still be convicted and executed.

A team of lawyers had volunteered to defend Chen, the nephew of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, but "they told us: 'According to Chinese law, a criminal suspect can only be commissioned two lawyers,'" one of those lawyers tells Reuters—and a government-run legal center has conveniently already assigned him two, whether he wants them or not. China has a history of preventing lawyers from trying sensitive cases. "Chen Kegui will not be able to get a real defense," said one member of his would-be legal team. His fate "will entirely be up to the authorities."