China's Ai Weiwei barred from court in tax case

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was barred from a hearing Wednesday challenging a multi-million-dollar tax order against a firm he founded, he said, accusing authorities of trying to "crush" him.

Ai, an internationally acclaimed artist also renowned for his political activism, disappeared into custody for 81 days last year as police rounded up dissidents amid online calls for Arab Spring-style protests in China.

On his release, he was accused of tax evasion linked to Fake Cultural Development Ltd -- a company he founded, but which is legally registered in his wife's name.

Lawyers for Fake have lodged an appeal against the charges, which Ai says are politically motivated and have no basis. He has accused the tax bureau of failing to follow correct procedures in the case.

The 54-year-old said the bureau had never seen the full, original file brought against the company, which the police still holds, and Fake's lawyers had also not been allowed to review the evidence.

"How can you accuse someone but not give them the right to ask where this all came from?" he asked. "They are not professional and never intended to be professional, they just want to crush me."

In November, the Beijing tax bureau issued a bill for 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in alleged back taxes and penalties, giving the artist 15 days to pay it or hand over an 8.45-million-yuan guarantee.

Ai was able to pay the guarantee -- needed by law to challenge the charge -- thanks to a wave of donations from supporters. In April, lawyers for Fake filed a lawsuit against the tax bureau, which was being heard Wednesday.

The court has until early August to rule on the case, Ai's lawyers said.

"They (police) have made clear their decision -- they said 'if you try to get to court, you will never get there'," Ai, who had planned to attend proceedings, told AFP.

"This is a very strange society in which on the one hand you try to put satellites into space and on the other hand you do not give the citizens a seat in the courtroom for them to see the process of justice," Ai said, referring to China's ongoing manned space flight launched Saturday.

Ai's assistant, Liu Yanping, said she had also been refused admission.

"I applied to attend court but they told me there was no more room," she told AFP by telephone.

The artist -- named the world's most powerful art figure by influential British magazine Art Review last year -- is renowned for his political activism, which has repeatedly angered the ruling Communist Party.

Large numbers of uniformed and plain-clothes police were deployed outside the courthouse in Beijing where the appeal hearing was held on Wednesday, in an indication of the sensitivity of the case.

Ai's wife Lu Qing, who is Fake's legal representative, was seen entering the court just before the hearing was due to begin at 0600 GMT Wednesday, but journalists gathered outside were ordered to leave the area.

Speaking to AFP at his studio in Beijing, where several police cars were also deployed, Ai said he had "no expectation" of the hearing.

Ai was released on bail on June 22, 2011, and barred from leaving Beijing for one year. The restriction expires on Friday, but it remained unclear whether he would be allowed to travel out of the capital.

He riled authorities with his investigation into the collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and into a 2010 fire at a Shanghai high-rise that killed dozens.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • McCain seeks defence funding to help Asia against China challenges
    McCain seeks defence funding to help Asia against China challenges

    By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A leading U.S. senator has proposed that the United States provide hundreds of millions of dollars to help train and equip the armed forces of Southeast Asian countries faced with Chinese territorial challenges. Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the proposal in an amendment to the 2016 U.S. Defense Authorization Act expected to be passed later this year, entitled the South China Sea Initiative. It …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. The President’s visit would boost relations between the two countries on all aspects including defense and security, according to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Minda Cruz. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options