Detained Australian writer waives right to appeal

Australian writer Yang Hengjun fears he may die in a Chinese prison without proper medical attention.

Australian writer Yang Hengjun fears he may die in a Chinese prison without proper medical attention. Photo: AAP

Australian writer Yang Hengjun will not appeal his suspended death sentence imposed by a Chinese court, with his family saying further legal challenges would be detrimental to his welfare.

Dr Yang was found guilty on espionage charges in China in February after spending five years in prison.

He will still face the prospect of life behind bars at the end of a two-year suspended death sentence.

In a letter written by Dr Yang’s family and friends, they said they supported the imprisoned writer’s decision to waive his right to appeal.

“There are no grounds to believe that the system that enabled Yang’s sustained torture and fabricated the charge against him is capable of remedying the injustice of his sentence,” the letter said.

“Commencing an appeal would only delay the possibility of adequate and supervised medical care, after five years of inhumane treatment and abject medical neglect.”

Dr Yang’s family have described the charges levelled against him as being without factual basis, with there being little evidence of the justice system in China containing the rule of law.

“Yang was subjected to hundreds of instances of torture and has never received any semblance of due process,” the letter said.

“The accusations that the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau has levelled against him are so spurious that they have never been publicly disclosed, let alone properly tested and cross-examined in court.”

The prisoner’s supporters have urged for China to provide him with medical care, saying Dr Yang had been denied proper medical care to treat a serious kidney condition throughout his time in prison.

Australian embassy officials have met with Dr Yang monthly, while Trade Minister Don Farrell is expected to raise the plight of the writer with his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao on the sidelines of a World Trade Organisation forum in Abu Dhabi at the end of February.

China has maintained the case was held in accordance with its legal system.

Dr Yang’s family expressed thanks to the Australian government for campaigning on behalf of the imprisoned Australian.

“We urge the Australian government, allied nations and the wider international community to continue to show solidarity with Yang and put pressure on the Chinese government so that Yang can be released from prison at an early date and (be) reunited with his family,” the letter said.

“We strongly appeal to the Chinese authorities to allow Yang Hengjun to be released on medical parole or otherwise transferred to safety in Australia, in accordance with the most basic humanitarian principles.”


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