Sun Dawu, a Chinese billionaire pig farmer and agricultural magnate, has been sentenced after weeks of secret hearings to 18 years in prison and fined 3.11 million yuan (£ 345,000) for a catalog of crimes including “causing trouble. “In one case observers I think it was politically motivated.
The Gaobeidian court near Beijing said Sun was guilty of crimes such as “gathering a crowd to attack state organs,” “obstructing the administration of the government,” and “provoking disputes and causing trouble,” a general term used often against human rights figures. and dissenters.
Sun, an outspoken supporter and friend of Chinese political dissidents, was arrested on November 11 along with more than 20 people, including his wife, two sons and daughters-in-law.
Groups including China’s Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) say the indictment is an apparent retaliation for Sun’s longstanding support and friendships with Chinese dissidents, even after national campaigns directed against them made such associations go. increasingly dangerous.
“When the government violates its own laws to silence those who have the means to support commitments to social justice and official responsibility, it profoundly weakens the vitality of China’s economy and the promises of its leaders to rule by law,” he said Ramona Li, a principal investigator for CHRD, at the start of Sun’s trial this month.
Sun, who turned 67 this month according to his lawyers, is a former pig farmer who founded the Dawu Farming and Animal Husbandry Group. The billion-dollar business has around 9,000 employees and a specially designed business city that Sun reportedly ran to reflect his vision of an equitable rural society, with residents with free or discounted access to healthcare, education and entertainment services.
Sun’s achievements were initially praised by officials and he became a local representative of China’s governing body. But he also used his success to support human rights lawyers and dissidents, and was arrested in 2003 for published criticism of the state.
According to a news outlet China Change, in the pre-trial phase, Sun described himself as a “prominent member of the Communist Party” and denied many of the allegations against him, including those related to misuse of funds. .
Sun admitted to making mistakes, including posting messages online and unspecified mistakes about the “land issue.”
“The way they are investigating me now is making those close to us suffer and making those who hate us happy. I want to take charge of the charges, even if they are serious, in exchange for the release of others. We are people who have made contributions to society, “he said.
The case comes amid a large-scale crackdown in recent months against private companies and businessmen in China. Major tech companies have been investigated and their executives questioned and ordered to downsize or fined, including Jack Ma’s Ant Group and Alibaba.
In September, Ren Zhiqiang, a former real estate mogul who criticized Xi’s handling of the pandemic in an online essay, was jailed for 18 years on corruption charges.
Additional reports from Agence France-Presse
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism