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China trial of rights activist critical of earthquake response postponed

[JURIST] The trial of Chinese human rights activist Huang Qi, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government's response to the earthquake in the Sichuan Province [BBC backgrounder], originally set for Tuesday, will now be delayed. A Chinese court on Monday scheduled the trial date for Tuesday, leaving Huang's attorney less than 24 hours to prepare his defense and prompting an immediate legal challenge. Huang's attorney accused [AP report] the Chinese government of breaking the law in order to intentionally make things difficult for his client. Huang remains one of China's most outspoken activists and will be tried on charges of illegal possession of state secrets. A new trial date has not yet been set.

The Chinese court system remains the target of criticism for activist groups. Last July, China was accused [JURIST report] of using the courts to retaliate against journalists critical of government. In February 2008, a Chinese court convicted dissident writer Lu Gengsong on charges of subversion [JURIST report], sentencing him to four years in prison for writing essays exposing corruption within the Communist Party of China. Also last year, the Chinese government violently suppressed demonstrations and protests in Tibet [JURIST news archive], detaining thousands.

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