Imprisoned Chinese Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is to make a formal complaint seeking a retrial to overturn his guilty verdict.
Liu is five years into an 11-year prison term for his conviction on a charge of subversion, after he wrote and distributed a document calling for democracy. Liu has insisted he is innocent.
The appeal is likely to have slim a chance of success. But lawyer Mo Shaoping said Liu’s family no longer feels it has anything to lose by challenging the conviction and hope to test recent pledges by China’s ruling Communist Party to make the country’s judicial system more independent.
Liu was convicted and jaiedl in 2009. He was awarded the peace prize in 2010 for two decades of non-violent struggle for civil rights, in a decision that angered Beijing, which denounced the award.
Liu’s conviction was upheld by an appeal court in Beijing, and his family members initially did not plan to challenge the verdict any further. However, they renewed their resolve to fight the verdict after authorities earlier this year jailed his wife’s brother on a fraud conviction in a case critics say was a political punishment for Liu’s pro-democracy advocacy.
“They have nothing more to worry about,” Mo said.
He said Liu agreed to the new legal challenge during a prison visit by his wife in October.
Since Liu’s jailing his wife Liu Xia has been placed under strict house arrest, but she was able to meet lawyers during the trial of her brother.
Family friend Hu Jia said the chances of a successful challenge are almost zero, but that supporters hope the challenge could allow lawyers to visit Liu and open a new channel of communication with him.
Liu apparently is under a restrictive watch to limit his knowledge of the outside world, and to prevent details of him from leaking out.