China holds Rio trial behind closed doors

March 22, 2010

The trial of four Rio Tinto employees began early on a chilly, gray Monday morning in Shanghai, when four police vans in a convoy led by a cruiser with flashing lights swept the defendants to the courthouse well before 7 am.

Quick glimpses from outside the modern courthouse are all that most outsiders will get.

The case has concerned foreign investors since the four were detained last summer at the height of tense
iron ore price negotiations between Rio Tinto, other miners, and Chinese steel mills.
Even Chinese reporters who normally cover court proceedings have not been let into this trial. Passes were handed out last week to only a few Chinese media outlets. No foreign reporters were allowed in.
Australian diplomats avoided making any statements as they passed through a security scanner on their
way to observe part of the trial against Stern Hu, an Australian citizen and the head of Rio Tinto’s iron ore team in China.
China has refused to allow the Australians access to a “closed” portion of the trial, which deals with alleged infringment of commercial secrets. That refusal has revived questions about how China defines “secrets”.

 Photo Caption: Cars drive in to the Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court on the morning of Rio Tinto trail March 22, 2010. The trial of four Rio Tinto employees opens on Monday in Shanghai, China’s financial hub, in a case closely watched by investors anxious over the business environment for foreign firms and their Chinese employees. REUTERS/Nir Elias

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