A Chinese lawyer has failed in his appeal to overturn a four-year prison sentence for inciting a land protest in Guangdong province late last year, the Financial Times reported. Following a hearing held on October 17, the court upheld the original conviction of Liu Yao, although his sentence was reduced to two years. The plight of Liu – said by the authorities to be the architect of a protest that resulted in the destruction of US$7,285 worth of construction materials – raised concerns across China’s legal community. It was thought that he was targeted by local officials to defuse an embarrassing situation. A total of 500 lawyers have signed a petition protesting the retrial verdict, passed down on Monday. They argue that altering the sentence is contradictory given that no new evidence emerged at the appeal hearing. Two villagers who participated in the protest were sentenced to prison terms of nine and 10 months, respectively. Both have already been released.