Blog­gers sen­tenced over deroga­tory posts

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By ZOU SHUO zoushuo@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Two blog­gers were sen­tenced to jail in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion on Wednes­day for post­ing fic­ti­tious sto­ries about the head of a gi­ant Chi­nese dairy com­pany, Yili Group.

Zou Guangx­i­ang and Liu Chengkun were ac­cused of de­fam­ing Pan Gang, chair­man of In­ner Mon­go­lia Yili In­dus­trial Group, in a se­ries of WeChat posts be­gin­ning on March 24.

Zou was sen­tenced by the Huimin Dis­trict Peo­ple’s Court in Ho­hhot to one year in prison with a one-and-a-half year re­prieve; Liu was sen­tenced to eight months in prison for defama­tion and caus­ing a dis­tur­bance, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on the court’s web­site.

Both Zou and Liu will ap­peal the ver­dict, the state­ment said.

Liu is ac­cused of post­ing three fic­ti­tious ar­ti­cles on his WeChat ac­count, Tianlu Cai­jing, sug­gest­ing that Pan had been de­tained by po­lice for in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter re­turn­ing from a trip to the United States.

Zou posted on March 26 that Pan had “dis­ap­peared” af­ter re­turn­ing from the US, de­spite be­ing told ear­lier by Yili Group that the in­for­ma­tion was false.

Zou’s ar­ti­cles re­ceived 5.74 mil­lion views, while Liu’s were read 10,993 times.

Yili Group is­sued a state­ment on its web­site on Wednes­day ac­cus­ing its for­mer chair­man Zheng Jun­huai of hav­ing a se­cret meet­ing with Liu to spread the ru­mors about its cur­rent chair­man Pan.

In De­cem­ber 2004, Zheng was de­tained by Ho­hhot pros­e­cu­tors. One year later he was put in jail with a six-year sen­tence for em­bez­zling 16.5 mil­lion yuan ($2.38 mil­lion). Zheng was re­leased in 2008 af­ter the sen­tence was re­duced for good be­hav­ior.

Ac­cord­ing to Yili, Zheng em­bez­zled more than 240 mil­lion yuan.

The com­pany has sub­mit­ted dozens of doc­u­ments said to con­tain ev­i­dence of Zheng’s em­bez­zle­ment to procu­ra­to­rial and su­per­vi­sory au­thor­i­ties at var­i­ous lev­els since 2004, but the pro­tec­tion of a for­mer na­tional-level of­fi­cial and sev­eral min­is­te­rial-level of­fi­cials has shielded him from be­ing pros­e­cuted for the em­bez­zle­ment, the state­ment said, with­out nam­ing any­one.

The “pro­tec­tors” also helped him to re­duce his sen­tence from six years to three and a half years, it said.

When Zheng was re­leased from jail in 2008, he be­gan us­ing the in­flu­ence of his pro­tec­tors to ask Yili for the money he em­bez­zled be­fore he went to jail, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

The com­pany de­nied his re­quest, so Zheng hired blog­gers to con­coct ru­mors about the lead­ers of Yili and their fam­i­lies, it said.

“We were bul­lied by Zheng and his pro­tec­tors for too long and be­came mis­er­able and men­tally and phys­i­cally ex­hausted. We have no choice but to dis­close the truth to the pub­lic,” the com­pany said.

“Ev­ery­thing in the state­ment is true and we hope pros­e­cu­tors will hold Zheng and his pro­tec­tors re­spon­si­ble as soon as pos­si­ble.”

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