China land rights lawyer Ni Yulan and husband jailed

Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin (file photo) Ni Yulan (with husband) says police mistreatment left her disabled

Disabled Chinese lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin have been jailed a year after they were detained.

Ms Ni was sentenced to two years and eight months, while her husband was handed a two-year term.

The couple are known for providing legal help to people whose homes have been seized by the government.

They were jailed on charges of "picking quarrels, provoking trouble and wilfully destroying private and public property", a court spokesman said.

The couple were detained last April as authorities rounded up scores of activists amid online calls for protests similar to those taking place at the time in the Arab world.

Their trial took place in December 2011, with the hearing closed to the press and foreign diplomats.

Their supporters said charges were meant to silence them and the trial was a sign of China's growing intolerance of dissent.

Their daughter, Dong Xuan, told reporters then that the trial had been "a very abnormal legal process".

"This is completely unfair, I urge the government to release my parents," she told AFP news agency after the sentencing on Tuesday.

"Both my parents looked very thin. I was unable to see my mother's face, she didn't turn around. She was in a wheelchair and looked very weak. My father saw me and asked me how I was. He told me that he was OK."

Fighting 'land grabs'

Ms Ni's fight against land grabs began in 2002 after her home in central Beijing was requisitioned and later demolished.

She has been banned from working as a lawyer but she and her husband have continued to advise others whose land has been seized.

She was sentenced to a year in jail in 2002 for "obstructing official business" and to two years' imprisonment in 2008 for "harming public property".

Fifty-one-year-old Ms Ni uses a wheelchair - a consequence, she and her supporters say, of mistreatment by police.

Amnesty International said her kneecaps and feet were broken during her detention in 2002. She has also described the ill treatment by authorities in media interviews, saying that she was pinned down and kicked until she was not able to walk.

The European Union issued a statement saying it was "deeply concerned" about Ms Ni's sentence and calling for her immediate release given her poor health.

The sentencing took place with heavy security around the courthouse, reports said.

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