Beijing [China], May 11 (ANI): Chinese businessmen Sun Dawu, who has been vocal in criticising Chinese authorities about its handling of the COVID-19, could face 25 years in prison if convicted on a range of charges against him.
Sun Dawu has been accused of provoking trouble and disturbing public order, illegal mining, encroachment on state farmland, obstructing public service and illegal fundraising, among other charges, prosecutors in Gaobeidian in Hebei province said in a document on Wednesday.
The document also listed the charges against 19 other people who were detained with Sun in November over a land dispute between his Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group and a state farm, South China Morning Post reported.
A source in the legal team, who requested anonymity because they were warned not to speak to the media, said prosecutors asked for Sun's eldest son Sun Meng to be jailed for 16 years and Sun's brother Sun Zhihua to be jailed for 11 years.
The source said they expected Sun could be sentenced to 20-25 years.
"The defendants were surprised about the heavy sentencing suggestions and they have said that these [sentences] are unacceptable," the source said. "We will do our best to defend them." The source said the court was expected to set a trial date next week.
Sun, 66, founded the Dawu Group in 1989 and has since built it into a huge empire spanning agriculture, tourism and health care.
Sun is not the first businessman who is facing the heat for criticising the administration.
Alibaba chief Jack Ma also paid for pushing back against Beijing. China imposed a record fine of 18.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd after an anti-monopoly probe found that it had abused its dominant market position.
Alibaba has been under mounting pressure from Chinese authorities since Ma spoke out against China's regulatory approach to the finance sector in October. (ANI)