The nephew of blind activist Chen Guangcheng has been denied his family's choice of lawyer and could possibly face the death penalty under the charge of "intentional homicide," according to Reuters.
The charges against Chen Kegui stem from an incident on April 27, when he used knives to fend off local officials, the day after they found out his uncle had escaped. His lawyers said he did not kill anyone, but police told his team of lawyers that two government-appointed lawyers would represent Chen Kegui.
One of Chen Kegui's lawyers, Ding Xikui, said, "They told us: 'According to Chinese law, a criminal suspect can only be commissioned two lawyers. Two have been assigned to him, so both of you can't be his lawyers,'" according to Reuters.
Chen Guangfu, the blind activist's elder brother and father to Chen Kegui, said he was chained to a chair and beaten for three days by officials wanting to find out how Chen Guangcheng escaped, according to the BBC.
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The village where they live has been sealed off from journalists, but interviews were conducted by iSunAffairs.com, a Hong Kong-based magazine.
Chen Guangfu said, "They put me on a chair, bound my feet with iron chains and locked my hands with handcuffs behind my back. They pulled my hands upwards forcefully. Then they slapped me in the face."
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Chen Kegui's mother, Ren Zongju, said officials attacked her son and he was only defending himself. "They started fighting inside the house. So many people were beating him. His face was bleeding, and his legs. His trousers were ripped," she said, according to the BBC.
Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest last month, in an incident that made international headlines and caused a diplomatic crisis between China and the US, when he sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing. He is now awaiting permission to travel to the US to study, but supporters fear that his relatives will face retribution from local officials, according to the Associated Press.
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