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Chinese authorities uphold $2.4 million tax evasion fine against dissident artist Ai Weiwei


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (C) talks to the foreign media outside a court in Beijing on September 27, 2012.


Ed Jones

Chinese authorities upheld a $2.4 million tax evasion fine against Ai Weiwei on Thursday.

"It's an extremely shameless court," China's most famous dissident told reporters, referring to the outcome of a case that Reuters wrote had "badly tarnished the country's already poor human rights reputation."

The tax case against Ai, 55, has been seen as an attempt to muzzle the artist, held in detention for 81 days last year after repeatedly criticizing the Chinese government over human rights. 

The Beijing tax bureau last November imposed a hefty fine on Ai's company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development — which produces his art and designs — for engaging in tax evasion.

However, Ai accused the tax bureau of violating laws in handling witnesses, gathering evidence and company accounts, the Associated Press reported

According to Agence France-Presse, Ai's legal team had new evidence that they wanted to present. 

"The court violated legal procedures. They refused to allow us to present our case," he said of the initial ruling, which he claimed was politically motivated.

However, the Beijing No. 2 People's Intermediate Court on Thursday rejected Ai's claim and said the ruling could not be appealed again.

According to AFP, Ai can in theory appeal to the nation's supreme court, but that because of his tense relationship with the government  he was unlikely to be successful.

Ai, who had been seeking an open trial into the charges, said the court's ruling sprang from a "barbaric and backward legal system".

The court "didn't respect the facts or give us a chance to defend ourselves; it has no regard for taxpayers' rights," he added.

"From the Fake tax case (we) can see that there's no fair justice in China," Ai said, adding he did not know whether now he had to pay to entire fine though he suspected he did.

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