A Beijing court has sentenced 10 people to up to 18 months in jail for illegally detaining petitioners from another city, state media reported on Sunday. It was a rare case of the judiciary taking on the shadowy men who operate on the margins of the law, Reuters reported. Those convicted were hired by authorities from Changge city to stop petitioners airing their grievances in Beijing, the People's Daily said on its website, citing a Beijing newspaper. They held them in rented houses in a Beijing suburb where the petitioners said they were beaten. Petitioning officials has deep roots in China, where courts are seen as beyond the reach of ordinary people, who often try to take local disputes to higher levels in the country's capital, Beijing. In many cases, however, petitioners are rounded up in Beijing by men hired by provincial authorities to prevent the central government from learning of problems in China's outlying regions.