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China holds man in secret under new law despite reform talk

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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A Chinese man who agitated for an
investigation into the suspicious death of an activist has been
detained at an unknown location, his lawyer said on Monday,
describing him as possibly the first to be held under a
controversial new law that allows secret detention.

Authorities in Shaoyang city in central Hunan province told
family members of Zhu Chengzhi, 62, last Friday that he would be
put under "residential surveillance" under "Article 73", Zhu's
wife, Zeng Qiulian, told Reuters by telephone on Monday. Article
73 legalises detaining people in secret.

The detention comes a day after China said it will reform
its system of forced labour camps this year, marking a first
step toward legal reform promised by new Communist Party chief
Xi Jinping.

Article 73 legalises a practice that began in earnest in
2011. Fearing that anti-authoritarian uprisings across the Arab
world could inspire challenges to Communist rule, the government
unlawfully held dozens of activists, including artist Ai Weiwei,
for weeks or months in secret detention.

The new law allows police to detain people they suspect of
crimes related to state security, terrorism or serious
corruption in a designated location.

Families would be notified within 24 hours, but police are
not required to disclose the whereabouts of the person detained
and can deny access to a lawyer.

Police had charged Zhu with "incitement to subvert state
power" after he posted photos online following the death of his
friend, Li Wangyang, who was found in a hospital ward in
Shaoyang, his neck tied with a noose made from cotton bandages.

Authorities said it was suicide - a verdict that angered
thousands of scholars, lawyers and activists.

"They told me they were moving him to a hotel," his wife,
Zeng, said, adding that police declined to disclose his
whereabouts.

The Shaoyang public security bureau was not available for
comment.

Liu Xiaoyuan, Zhu's lawyer, said he believed Zhu was the
first Chinese person to be held under the secret detention laws.
The Justice Ministry was not available for comment.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130108/china-holds-man-secret-under-new-law-despite-reform-talk