Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is unlikely to win a multi-million-dollar tax case that was filed against a company he founded when a court announces a verdict Friday, the activist's lawyer said.
The Beijing Chaoyang court has worked with the government, police and prosecutors to trump up charges against Fake Cultural Development Ltd, a firm Ai founded, but which is legally registered to his wife, the lawyer said.
"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.
"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."
Ai, an internationally acclaimed artist, has said China's Communist Party regime is seeking to "crush" him due to his social activism and criticism of authority.
The 54-year-old artist, who disappeared into custody for 81 days last year as police rounded up dissidents amid online calls for Arab Spring-style protests in China, was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
He was barred from attending the June 20 trial of the case due to a year-long bail period that expired last month and hoped to attend Friday's hearing, Pu said.
But the court has already said the five seats open in the nominally "public hearing" have already been taken, Pu said.
After being released from police detention -- which supporters say was illegal -- Fake was accused of tax evasion and ordered either to pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in alleged back taxes and penalties or hand over an 8.45-million-yuan guarantee.
Ai was able to pay the guarantee -- needed by law to challenge the charge -- thanks to a wave of donations from supporters. In April, lawyers for Fake filed a lawsuit against the tax bureau, which was heard in June.