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.


Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

Alvin Braziel appears in a booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Austin, Texas, US, December 10, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

  • The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck

HUNTSVILLE, Texas: A Texas inmate was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting a newlywed during a robbery more than 25 years ago.
Alvin Braziel Jr., 43, received lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the 1993 slaying of 27-year-old Douglas White, who was attacked as he and his wife walked on a jogging trail.
Braziel became the 24th inmate put to death this year in the US and the 13th executed in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state. He will be the last Texas inmate executed this year.
The execution was delayed about 90 minutes after the six-hour window defined by the warrant began at 6 p.m. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a last-minute appeal from Braziel’s attorneys.
As Douglas and Lora White walked along a community college jogging trail in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Braziel jumped out from behind some bushes with a pistol in his hand and demanded money.
The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck. But Braziel became angry with the couple and ordered them to the ground.
“Doug ... was praying, asked God to forgive him and Lora their sins because they both knew that this was it,” said Michael Bradshaw, the lead detective on the case for Mesquite police. “The last thing Doug said before Braziel fired the first round, he said, ‘Please God, don’t let him hurt Lora.’“
Braziel shot White once in the head and once in his heart.
Bradshaw said he believes Braziel would have also shot then-24-year-old Lora White but his gun malfunctioned. Braziel instead took her to bushy area near the trail and sexually assaulted her.
Douglas White’s murder was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and a $20,000 reward was raised by the chiropractic college he had worked for as an electrician. Bradshaw said more than 40 potential suspects were interrogated and had their blood drawn for testing.
But White’s murder remained unsolved for over seven years.
“I really didn’t know that I would ever be able to solve it. But I really did not give up hope,” said Bradshaw, 63, who retired from Mesquite police in 2012.
Braziel was eventually tied to the killing in 2001 after he was imprisoned for sexual assault in an unrelated case and his DNA matched evidence from Lora White’s assault.
At his trial, Braziel said he wasn’t near the college during the killing.
Braziel’s attorneys didn’t immediately reply to emails and calls seeking comment on Tuesday.
Last week, his lawyers asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stop his execution, arguing in part he should not receive lethal injection because he is intellectually disabled.
The Supreme Court held in 2002 that people convicted of murder who are intellectually disabled cannot be executed.
Braziel’s attorneys later withdrew their request.
Courts had previously turned down Braziel’s appeals that have focused on claims of mental illness and that he had suffered a childhood brain injury, saying Braziel refused to be examined by a mental health expert during his trial and that his family declined to help his defense attorneys obtain evidence of any mental health problems in Braziel’s family.
His attorneys also filed a last-minute appeal Tuesday, arguing that an emotional outburst at the 2001 murder trial from Lora White was unfairly elicited by prosecutors when she was shown on the witness stand a photo of her husband’s autopsied body.
Bradshaw said he still keeps in contact with Lora White and that she started a new life and is doing well.
“Lora wants it known that she’s prayed for Alvin Braziel and his family,” Bradshaw said.