Communist authorities jailed three lawyers for a blind Chinese activist in a bumbling attempt to disrupt a fair court hearing for the activist who exposed local officials forcing women to undergo late-term abortions and sterilizations according to the Associated Press.

According to the AP, the lawyers represent Chen Guangcheng, 34, who was arrested by local authorities after documenting claims by villagers in Shandong province that local officials forced them into late-term abortions and sterilizations in order to meet their population quota. Chen’s exposé drew the attention of international media, prompting an investigation from the National Population and Family Planning Commission, which confirmed Chen’s findings and removed some officials in Shandong.

Chen officially stands accused of illegal assembly and intent to damage public property; accusations which many say are attempts to punish Chen’s embarrassment of local authorities.

The AP reports that police detained Xu Zhiyong, Chen’s legal adviser and an attorney who taught at Yale University on charges of “stealing a wallet” Thursday in the Shangdong province. Authorities temporarily held in custody two other attorneys on suspicion of complicity, but released them after two hours.

“This trial is a farce,” said Jerome Cohen, an American attorney and expert on China’s legal system, who found the ludicrous charges of robbery “beyond belief”. Cohen described Xu to the AP as “highly admired as a scholar and an activist and a very idealistic, fearless person.”

One of Chen’s detained defense attorneys, Zhang Lihui said, “This was designed to disrupt our ability to represent our client. It’s very obvious.”

The farcical charges provoked a law professor and member of China’s parliament, Ying Songian, to denounce Xu’s detention as “a clumsy attempt to frustrate an open and impartial hearing.”