Activist: China black jail guard convicted of rape

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2009 1:24 AM

A guard at an unofficial detention center in Beijing was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison for raping a young female detainee, an activist said, in a case that put a spotlight on "black jails" that hold a growing number of people seeking justice from the government.

Xu Jian, 26, was sentenced Friday by the Fengtai District Court and ordered to pay 2,300 yuan ($335) in compensation to the victim, said Liu Dejun, an activist who helped the victim report the assault. Liu was not present at the trial but confirmed the details with the woman's lawyer and family, he said.

The 21-year-old woman came to Beijing in August to petition the central government for help in resolving a school dispute but, like many petitioners, was forced into an unofficial detention center within days of her arrival. Human rights groups say provincial officials support the "black jails" because they fear citizens' complaints to higher authorities could get them in trouble.

On the woman's first night at the makeshift jail in a hotel store room, the guard forced his way onto her upper bunk, raped her and fled, she told the AP in August.

The government has denied that the "black jails" exist. The term was not mentioned during the guard's trial, Liu said.

The victim's uncle, who asked to be identified only by his surname, Li, said the family was unhappy with the sentence and the compensation.

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"We were expecting 12 to 13 years, at least," said Li by telephone from Fuyang city in central China's Anhui province. "And we've already spent several thousand yuan (several hundred dollars) traveling back and forth to Beijing."

The telephone at the Fengtai court rang unanswered Friday.

After the rape, the woman and about 50 other detainees broke out of the jail. An Associated Press reporter who visited the site hours after the attack found a filthy store room with metal-frame bunk beds, a squat toilet and a bolted wooden door.