Heavy jail terms for Chinese anti-graft trio: Lawyer

 Heavy jail terms for Chinese anti-graft trio: Lawyer
One of three activisits, Liu Ping, sentenced to six and a half years.

BEIJING - Three Chinese anti-corruption activists were sentenced to up to six and a half years in prison on Thursday, a lawyer said, the latest in their grass-roots movement to be jailed despite an official drive against graft.

A court in the central province of Jiangxi sentenced Liu Ping and Wei Zhongping to six and a half years and Li Sihua to three years, Li's lawyer Zhou Ze told AFP.

The three had taken photos of themselves last year holding banners urging government officials to disclose their assets as a curb against corruption.

Liu and Wei were found guilty of disrupting public order, "using evil religion to sabotage law enforcement" and "picking fights and provoking trouble", while Li was convicted only of the final charge.

Zhou said it was up to the three to choose whether to appeal but added: "Does it matter? The ruling in an appeal is already decided."

Liu and Wei's six-and-a-half-year sentences are the longest handed down to members of their New Citizens Movement so far.

China's courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party and have a near-perfect conviction rate.

"From the beginning we knew this was a political case, so we had prepared ourselves psychologically," Liu Ping's daughter Liao Minyue told AFP.

"I was not allowed into the court to hear the verdict, and there were a lot of police outside," she said, adding that she felt "very upset" about the outcome.

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