A date for the trial of four former Rio Tinto executives arrested in Shanghai last year for alleged corporate espionage, including Australian Stern Hu, has been set for next Monday.
The four employees have been detained without trial since 5 July last year under charges of stealing state secrets, which were then downgraded to receiving bribes and stealing commercial secrets.
The proceedings will be held in the Shanghai Number One Intermediate Court and Hu will be represented by his legal counsel.
According to a statement from Rio Tinto, the sessions on receiving bribes will be held in open court, but the sessions on stealing commercial secrets will be heard in a closed court.
“Rio Tinto reiterates its hope for a transparent and expeditious process for its employees,” the company said.
A statement from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) indicated Australian consular officials in Shanghai would attend the trial’s open sessions.
“At the request of one of the parties and in accordance with Chinese law and procedure, the court has decided that the sessions dealing with the infringement of commercial secrets should be closed,” DFAT said.
“As a consequence, court authorities have advised that Australian consular officials are not able to attend that part of the proceedings.
“Australian officials have asked for this to be reconsidered.
“We are pleased that this case is now moving to trial.”
According to reports, the former executives could face a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail and a fine for stealing commercial secrets and more than five years’ jail for bribery if found guilty.