|Trial of activist trio suspended
The trial of three anti-corruption activists in Jiangxi was suspended today a lawyer said.
Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua were charged with “illegal assembly'' for unfurling a banner outside a housing complex in April, calling for government officials to declare their assets, lawyers said.
Asset disclosure is seen by some as a key change that could help China prevent graft after reports of enormous wealth amassed by officials and their families.
The court in in Xinyu, in the central province of Jiangxi, was forced to suspend the hearing after the defendants withdrew permission for their lawyers to represent them in protest at what they called the court's “illegal conduct,’’ said Zhang Xuezhong, who had been part of Liu's defence team.
“There was no way for the hearing to continue,'' Zhang said, adding that the activists would be given 15 days to re-appoint their previous lawyers, or hire new ones.
Zhang previously told AFP that one witness had been detained, while others were not approved to appear at the trial.
Defense lawyer Pang Kun told AFP that he had been detained by authorities for several hours Sunday, alongside a writer who planned to witness the trial who was still being held Monday.
There was a heavy police presence at the court, pictures posted online showed.
Court officials could not be reached for comment by AFP.
Liu, 48, an unemployed former steel worker, was associated with the “new citizens movement,’’ a loose grouping of activists calling for reforms to China's legal system, her daughter Liao Minyue said.
At least 15 others involved in the group have also been detained in recent months, according to US-based rights group Human Rights Watch.