The trial of former Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu gets underway today, with confirmation that Australian consular officials would be barred from parts of the proceedings.
Hu, along with three other former Rio executives, will answer to charges of bribery and stealing commercial secrets at the Shanghai Number One Intermediate Court, after being detained on 5 July 2009.
The sessions dealing with the bribery charges will be open to consular officials, but the sessions on stealing commercial secrets will be heard in a closed court.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said the Federal Government was disappointed in the decision.
“Chinese authorities have officially informed our Beijing Embassy that the Shanghai court decision not to allow access to the court for the charge relating to stealing commercial secrets will stand,” the spokesperson said.
“As a consequence, Australian officials will not be admitted to that part of the trial.
“We are disappointed with this final decision and the Government’s disappointment has been registered with Chinese officials in Beijing and Canberra.”
According to DFAT, the Government does not propose to make further representations on this matter.
“The trial is taking place in accordance with Chinese legal processes,” the spokesperson said.
“Chinese law provides for closed hearings in such cases and the court has decided accordingly.”
Consular officials will be present during the open hearings on the bribery charge, while Hu’s legal counsel will be present throughout the entire trial.