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." (Read more Chen Guangcheng stories.)