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Xu Zhiyong goes on trial in Beijing


Chinese human rights activist Xu Zhiyong, who campaigned against corruption, has gone on trial in Beijing.

Xu Zhiyong is charged with “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”. He is one of several activists from a transparency movement to be tried this week.

Rights groups have criticized President Xi Jinping – who pledged to fight corruption – over their trials.

They come as a report says many members of China’s elite have set up offshore companies in overseas tax havens.

The trial of Xu Zhiyong, who was arrested in July 2013, began on Wednesday in Beijing.

There was tight security outside the court, with police blocking journalists from approaching or filming outside.

Western diplomats said they were able to enter the building but were not allowed into the courtroom itself.

Xu Zhiyong is a leading advocate of a group campaigning for government officials to reveal their wealth

Xu Zhiyong is a leading advocate of a group campaigning for government officials to reveal their wealth

Xu Zhiyong ‘s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, said Xu and his lawyers both viewed the court proceedings as illegal, and stayed silent during the trial in protest.

Earlier, Zhang Qingfang told reporters that a fair trial looked “unlikely”. He said that he had not been given the opportunity to defend Xu Zhiyong in a fair court.

“Last week I applied for five witnesses to come and testify, but not only did the court reject my application, but also the police have been restricting these witnesses in the last two days,” he said.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei described Xu Zhiyong ‘s case as a “common criminal case” and that he had been “arrested in accordance with the law”.

Xu Zhiyong, who was also previously under house arrest, is a leading advocate of a group campaigning for government officials to reveal their wealth.

Seven members of the informal grassroots group, New Citizens Movement, also face separate trials this week on similar charges.

A known legal scholar, Xu Zhiyong also campaigned on behalf of inmates on death row and families affected by tainted baby milk formula in 2009.

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