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Ai Weiwei gets a surprise nod from court for lawsuit

BEIJING -- A Chinese court will open hearings on Wednesday on an unusual lawsuit by dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who is challenging a 15 million yuan (US$2.35 million) tax evasion penalty imposed on the company which markets his work.

Ai, whose 81-day detention without charge last year sparked an international outcry, asked a Beijing district court to overturn a city tax office decision.

The office had rejected his appeal against a tax evasion penalty on Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. which helps produce his art and designs.

Chinese courts rarely accept lawsuits filed by dissidents or their relatives.

“I can see they are in quite a hurry to finish everything before my one-year parole,” he told Reuters by phone.

Ai, 54, was released on June 26 last year and posted a bond against the tax penalty raised from donations by his supporters.

Court officials taped the notice of the hearing date to his studio door since Lu was not there to accept it in person, Ai said.

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