Wukan village leader Lin Zuluan stood trial Thursday morning at 9am in a Foshan court, as villagers protested. At close to 3pm, the court announced that he was sentenced to three years and one month in jail.
He was found guilty of charges of taking bribes and accepting bribes as a non-state employee, but was acquitted of bid-rigging. Lin pleaded guilty to the charges and said that he would not appeal.
Lin was one of the last remaining leaders of months-long protests in 2011 over illegal land grabs in the Guangdong fishing village. He eventually turned from protest leader to elected official in the village.
However, he was taken from his home early on the morning of June 18 this year, prompting villagers to hold daily demonstrations calling for his release. Lin was planning a meeting of villagers and a petition at government buildings before his arrest.
The villagers were demonstrating on their 81st day of protest. With their flags and slogans, they demanded Lin’s release and protested against officials who were taking over their land. The Guangdong village is also on strike, which began on Thursday and is set to last until Sunday.
Three of Lin’s family members were allowed to listen at the trial, while the rest were people brought in by the authorities. Barricades were also set up to prevent Wukan villagers from getting near the courthouse.