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Cyber-dissident who was tortured refuses to answer prosecutor in court

(RSF/IFEX) - The trial of cyber-dissident Guo Feixiong before court No. 11 in the southern city of Guangzhou was adjourned after three hours on the morning of 9 July 2007 because of his "unruly" behaviour in court and his refusal to answer questions from the prosecutor. No date has been set for another hearing. He is charged with illegal business activities.

Guo spoke out during the hearing, denying the charges, retracting the confession he previously made under torture, and criticising the court.

"Judging by the fact that 90 per cent of the 175 interrogations to which I have been subjected during my 10 months in detention were about human rights issues, it is clear that this is a case of political persecution," he told the court.

"I doubt the fairness of this trial because of the presence in the courtroom of two prosecutors against whom I brought complaints and for this reason, I refuse to answer the questions of the court and the prosecutor," Guo added, prompting the decision to suspend the hearing.

His wife, Zhang Qing, is afraid that his courtroom comments could lead to reprisals against him in the coming days. "It is likely that he will be tortured again," she said. She wrote to United Nations special rapporteur Manfred Nowak last month accusing her husband's jailers of torturing him.

His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, fears that the court will decide to make an example of him and impose an extremely severe sentence.

Arrested in September 2006 for criticising the authorities on the Internet and because of his human rights activities, Guo has been repeatedly tortured while in detention. He has filed several complaints without ever getting a response.

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