Fu Yuehua, the Chinese activist for democracy whose October trial was adjourned in apparent confusion, was sentenced today to two years in prision by the People's Intermediate Court here.
Charged with libel and violating public order, she was convicted on only the second charge. Neverltheless, the trial judge declared before sentencing that Fu, 34, was "morally degenerate" and had "knowingly committed libel." The disorder charge stemmed from a huge demonstration of petitioners last January in Peking's Tienanmen Square -- which she allegedly organized.
She was charged with libel after repeatedly saying she has been raped by her local Communist Party secretary seven years ago. Fu had pursued her case against the party official before taking up the cause of democratic reform.
Fu's orginial trial on the two counts was held Oct. 17, only a day after magazine editor Wei Jingsheng received a 15-year sentence. There were reports that her description of the alleged rape so moved the court that there was a spontaneous eruption from the spectators. One reliable report said an elderly party member rose from his seat to accuse a prosecution witness of being a "hooligan."
In any case, the trial was adjourned to "consider new evidence," and nothing more was heard of Fu until today. The New China News Agency then announced the conviction and sentencing. No foreign journalists or democracy activists attended this latest hearing.
An official report said investigation of the new evidence "had failed to reveal any truth in the allegations" of rape. It also said the trail judge "declared that Fu Yuehua was morally degenerate and had knowingly committed libel. But in view of the fact that her libelous statements had not caused undue damage, this charge would not be pursued."
Fu was an enigmatic part of last winter's democracy movement. She is a former construction worker who belonged to no organization and espoused no particular philosophy.
But when thousands of disorganized peasants arrived from the countryside to seek redress for their grievances, she suddenly assumed a leading role in coordinating their protests. The huge rally last January was probably the most dramatic of the petitioners' actions -- blocking downtown traffic for more than an hour.
Part of the presecution's case was that Fu marched in that demonstration holding a bedsheet that read, "Against hunger, against persecution and for democracy, for human rights." Fu was arrested in January and formally charged in April. She will have 10 days to appeal.