A U.S. citizen accused of heading a violent mob has gone on trial in China without consular access because the court says it does not recognize his American citizenship.
Vincent Wu, who was born in China and emigrated to the United States, is accused of kidnapping rivals and operating illegal casinos in southern Guangdong province.
Wu, who has been detained since June 2012, denies the charges against him and says he was tortured into confessing.
His legal adviser, Li Zhuang, told VOA that his client and dozens of other defendants were severely beaten during their detention.
Li adds it is unfair to try Wu as a Chinese national.
“The court is announcing many things that are clearly errors in logic," Li said. "For example, the court maintains [Vincent Wu] is a citizen of mainland China, but they do not have his mainland citizen ID card. So, since you maintain he is a citizen of mainland China, why also allow the Consular General from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to come [to the trial]. This consulate official said in court that [Wu] is a U.S. citizen.”
According to the Associated Press, family members and lawyers of Wu say he is a law-abiding businessman whose rivals have framed him to seize his assets.
China refuses to acknowledge Wu's American citizenship because his last entry into mainland China was made on his Hong Kong residence pass.
U.S. State Department officials say they are monitoring the case, but have declined further comment.
It is not clear how long Wu's trial will last.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.