Chinese artist and fierce government critic Ai Weiwei said Friday he had been barred from attending a court hearing in a multi-million-dollar tax evasion case against a company he founded.
The Beijing Chaoyang court will on Friday deliver a verdict in the case against Fake Cultural Development Ltd, a firm Ai founded but which is legally registered to his wife.
But Ai, who spent 81 days in secret detention last year as police rounded up dissidents amid online calls for Arab Spring-style protests in China and is still not allowed to leave the country, said he had been barred from attending.
"Today, I'm again confined to my house. Beijing PSB (Public Security Bureau) is not allowing me to go to the court," tweeted the 54-year-old artist.
"This country has once again proved to the world that law and justice does not exist here."
Ai, an internationally acclaimed artist whose works have been exhibited around the world, has accused China's Communist regime of seeking to "crush" him for his social activism and criticism of authority.
On his release from detention, he was accused of tax evasion linked to Fake and last November the Beijing tax bureau issued a bill for 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in alleged back taxes and penalties.
Ai denies the charge, which he says is politically motivated. He was barred from attending the June 20 trial of the case due to a year-long bail period that expired last month during which his movements were limited.
On Friday, police were stationed outside his home in Beijing and there was a heavy police presence outside the court. An AFP journalist was ordered to leave the area.
"We should be able to win this case, but from what we have seen so far, this is unlikely," Ai's lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told AFP on Thursday.
"Originally this should have been a very simple case, but the government, police, prosecutors and the courts have tried to make this very complicated on all fronts.
"We hope everything will become clear in accordance with legal regulations and procedures, but we are not holding out much hope."