Chinese activist ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’ jailed for eight years

Yan Xin (L) and Ge Yongxi (R), lawyers for activist Wu Gan known by the online pseudonym “Super Vulgar Butcher,” sit at a hotel after Wu was sentenced at a court in Tianjin on December 26, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 26 December 2017
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Chinese activist ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’ jailed for eight years

TIANJIN: A Chinese court sentenced an activist known by the online pseudonym “Super Vulgar Butcher” to eight years in prison Tuesday after he refused to plead guilty to charges of “subverting state power.”
Wu Gan, who was taken into police custody in May 2015, attracted authorities’ attention with performance art and caustic commentary on Chinese society and politics that he published online.
He was “dissatisfied with the current system of governance, and that gradually produced thoughts of subverting state power,” a court in Tianjin said in a statement explaining the verdict.
By “hyping up hot incidents,” Wu “attacked the national system that is the basis for state authority and the constitution,” the court said.
Wu also “spread fake information” and “insulted others online,” the statement said.
The prominent activist, with his recognizable bald head and glasses, became the subject of the state’s ire for using his larger-than-life online persona to draw public attention to human rights cases.
His nickname was a response to complaints about his use of “crude language.”
He became the subject of intense scrutiny by state media in May 2015 in what many activists saw as a sign of a looming crackdown on human rights defenders.
Wu’s lawyer Yan Xin said the sentence was aimed at setting “an example so other activists will say they are guilty when accused of crimes against the state.”
“It’s clear (Wu) was sentenced so harshly because he refused to plead guilty,” he said.
The verdict came the same day as a court in Changsha elected to exempt former human rights lawyer Xie Yang from serving a sentence after he pleaded guilty to charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”
Xie was released on bail in May after what critics described as a show trial.
He had previously claimed that police used “sleep deprivation, long interrogations, beatings, death threats, humiliations” on him.
But on Tuesday he denied he had been tortured, according to a video on the court’s official Weibo social media account.
“On the question of torture, I produced a negative effect on and misled the public, and I again apologize,” he told judges.
The court said he would face no criminal penalties following his full confession.
Both Xie and Wu were among hundreds of legal staff and activists detained in 2015’s so-called “709 crackdown,” where authorities detained more than 200 people, including lawyers who took on civil rights cases considered sensitive by the ruling Communist Party.


Australian judge sentences ‘mass murderer’ to life in prison

Updated 42 min 13 sec ago
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Australian judge sentences ‘mass murderer’ to life in prison

  • James Gargasoulas was in a drug-induced psychosis in January 2017 when he killed the six people and injured dozens more
  • His victims included a 3-month-old baby who was thrown 60 meters (200 feet) from his stroller and a 10-year-old girl.

MELBOURNE, Australia: A man who drove a stolen car into lunchtime crowds in downtown Melbourne and killed six people was sentenced to life imprisonment Friday in what the judge described as “one of the worst examples of mass murder in Australian history.”
James Gargasoulas, 29, showed little emotion when sentenced in Victoria state’s Supreme Court. Under the terms of his sentence, he will spend at least 46 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole.
Families of the victims filled the courtroom for Justice Mark Weinberg’s ruling. Gargasoulas was in a drug-induced psychosis in January 2017 when he killed the six people and injured dozens more in the busy Bourke St. Mall.
His victims included a 3-month-old baby who was thrown 60 meters (200 feet) from his stroller and a 10-year-old girl.
“Your actions were both callous and cowardly,” the judge said. “You have shown no genuine remorse.”
The judge described in detail the events of the “terrifying rampage,” noting each victim killed as well as those left with broken bones, head injuries, internal bleeding and other lasting damage.
“You left a trail of destruction,” the judge said. “The horror of what you did has profoundly impacted the lives of those who were present that day.”
Crime Stoppers Victoria ambassador George Halvagis said he thinks Gargasoulas should die in jail.
“He should never, ever, get out of there,” he told reporters after the sentencing.
Grieving relatives earlier told the court of their pain. The brother of Japanese victim Yosuke Kanno, 25, said he will continue suffering until he dies.
In a letter read to the court, Gargasoulas insisted he was not evil and blamed “government oppression” for the murders. He also said he was the Messiah and was acting on the wishes of God on the day of the rampage, but was in a “bad headspace.”
Gargasoulas has treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia but was found fit to stand trial. He pleaded not guilty. In November, a jury found him guilty of the six murders and 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.
He had been using drugs and committing crimes in the weeks before the attack and was on bail. The judge noted he was meant to face court on the day of the massacre. Police had tailed the stolen Holden Commodore for some of its journey into downtown Melbourne before the rampage.
“Your crimes have had a shattering effect on countless lives,” Weinberg said.
Gargasoulas will be eligible to apply for release in 2063, when he’s 73.