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Ai Weiwei denied appeal over tax evasion.

Summary: A Chinese court has refused to overrule a tax evasion fine against China's most famous dissident Ai Weiwei.

A Chinese court has refused to overrule a tax evasion fine against China's most famous dissident Ai Weiwei.

Tax authorities are demanding Ai's company Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, which produces his art and designs, pay a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) penalty for tax evasion.

However, Ai's supporters have said the case is part of the government's effort to muzzle China's most famous social critic.

The artist said that Chinese police barred him from showing up in person, and said he had "absolutely no hope" the court would rule in his favour.

Ai said: "Today's verdict shows that this country, more than 60 years after its founding still has no basic legal process, still has no respect for the truth, still will never give taxpayers and citizens an ability to justify themselves."

He said he would continue to file appeals against the fine, calling it "a responsibility to society".

One of his lawyers, Pu Zhiqiang, said previously the hearing was "grossly unfair" and that the court gave him very limited time to make his case and only one minute to make his closing argument.

Pu said that officials had not shown him any original documents with evidence of the alleged tax evasion and had also held a closed hearing last year, which he said violated a law requiring open hearings.

The Government's previous efforts to muzzle Ai have frequently backfired, as demonstrated by an outpouring of public sympathy.

About 30,000 people donated money to help Ai cover an 8.45 million yuan ($1.3 million) bond required to contest the tax charges.

Independent Television News Limited 2011. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2012. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Jul 20, 2012
Words:308
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