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Rio accused allowed access to lawyers

MORE than 40 days after being taken into custody, four employees of the global mining giant Rio Tinto at the center of stealing commercial secrets charges were allowed to meet their lawyers on Monday.

The lawyers said this might be the only meeting with their clients during the next two or three months as police conduct the investigation because too much paper work was required to arrange a meeting, according to Caijing today.

Lawyers said the client meeting did not involve detailed discussion of the case as police officers were also present.

The details of the case would only be fully understood after police delivered their indictment, said one lawyer as cited by Caijing.

The meeting could ease the mental pressure on the four detainees after more than 40 days being kept in the dark about the charges, said the lawyers.

The four hired elite attorneys for their defense.

Australian citizen Stern Hu, the head of Rio's sales team in China, hired Duan Qihua, or Charles Duan, founder of Duan & Duan, China's first private law firm.

Tao Wuping, the lawyer of Liu Caikui, was famous for defending the Zhou Zhengyi, the city's former richest person, against economic crimes charges from 2003 to 2007.

Zhai Jian gained national fame when he defended Yang Jia, a Beijing resident who stabbed six police officers to death in Shanghai last July. Zhang Peihong, the lawyer hired by Wang Yong, was also a legend in his law work.

Shanghai prosecutors charged the four with bribery and commercial secrets infringements on August 11, downgrading from former allegations of spying state secretes.

The commercial secrets charge can bring jail terms of up to three years, or seven years in "especially serious" cases, according to Chinese law.

Officials of China's state-owned steel companies were also involved in the case.

Wang Hongjiu, an executive with China's sixth largest steel mill, the Laigang Group in Laiwu City in eastern Shandong Province, was taken into custody by police after Tan Yixin, an executive of Shougang Group in Beijing, was held by police days earlier.


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