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Trial resumes for Chinese webmaster

Huang Qi and his son Weixuan
Huang Qi and his son Weixuan  


By CNN's Rose Tang in Hong Kong

Chengdu, China -- A Chinese court has resumed trying a webmaster accused of subversion in the country's first ever prosecution case against an Internet content provider.

Tuesday's hearing on Huang Qi, a 38-year-old businessman was the first since he fainted in his trial in mid-February in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Police accuse Huang of using his "June 4 Tianwang Missing Persons Website" to post material on pro-democracy activities and the Xinjiang independence movement.

Huang has been detained for more than a year since his arrest on June 3, last year.

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Huang's wife Zeng told CNN that she and relatives were barred from the trial that lasted for almost three hours.

"I saw him when the police van pulled in. He was very very thin," Zeng said."He gestured a 'V' to me and smiled -- his hands were cuffed at the back."

She attempted to take pictures of Huang but court officers at the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court snatched away her camera and confiscated the film.

Zeng, who has been barred from telephoning or visiting Huang since his arrest, is now looking for a family to adopt their 10-year-old son Weixuan.

"Police threatened me that our son wouldn't have a future because of his father's crimes," she said.

Police 'know little about computers'

Huang was charged with instigation to split and subvert the state under China's Criminal Law.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to at least 10 years in jail, according to his lawyer Gao Xiaoping.

Gao told CNN he argued in the three-judge court that Huang did not commit any crime as he didn't post the 'subversive' messages on the website.

Huang subscribed to a US-based server after local police closed down his website in March, 2000 for not registering the portal in time with the police.

"The police didn't even bother to retrieve material from his previous Chengdu server to see if he was responsible for posting the messages," Gao said.

"These people in the police, prosecution and courts know very little about computers," he said.

No date set for sentencing

A court committee comprised of senior judges will overlook the case and no date for sentencing has been set, according to Gao.

Huang and Zeng set up the website in 1999 to publicize information about missing people.

However many Web users visited the site to post messages on corruption cases and taboo topics such as the Tiananmen Massacre.

Police closed down the website and arrested Huang one day before the 11th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre.

"We have a long way before us, I appreciate all of you, all those who help China's democratic progress. The police have come, goodbye! 5:20 pm June-03, 2000", he wrote in his final message, minutes before the police charged into his office.






RELATED STORIES:
RELATED SITES:
• Huang Qi's website
• Human Rights Watch

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