Underground church leader jailed for subversion

Beijing:Hu Shigen, leader of an underground church in China, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted of subverting state power on Wednesday, official said. He has also been deprived of his political rights for five years, according to Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, Xinhua news agency reported. Hu, 61, pled guilty and said he will not appeal. He had been in prison previously, serving 14 years of a 20 year sentence from 1994 to 2008 for inciting, organising and leading "counter-revolutionary" activities. Since 2009, he has used illegal religious organisation to attract illicit lawyers and paid petitioners to spread subversive thoughts and ideas, in addition he arranged for Gou Hongguo, another suspect, to receive anti-China training overseas, the court said in a statement.  He conspired and plotted to subvert state power with others including Zhou Shifeng, Li Heping and Zhai Yanmin and established "a systematic ideology, method and steps" to achieve it. Hu also encouraged Zhai Yanmin to organise professional petitioners to gather at public places and "cause chaos", attacking the country's judicial system and influence public opinion to fire-up hatred for the government, said the statement. Zhai was given a suspended sentence in a separate trial on Tuesday. "I recognise the severity of my crimes, and the huge damage I've brought to the country, society, my family and myself," Hu said in a statement. He said he had "long been influenced by bourgeois liberalism" and after being released from prison "fell deeper and deeper in to the criminal mire of anti-party and anti-government groups." He thanked the government for looking after him while he was ill and in hospital. "I want to thank the police, procuratorate, judges and medical staff for their help and education, which has been more memorable than any time before... I am resolved not to participate in any activities against the party and government in the future, and be a citizen abiding by the law," he said.