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Chinese Anti-Corruption Activists on Trial for 'Disturbing Public Order'

  • VOA News

Security personnel stand guard outside as Chinese human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi stands trial at a court in Haidian District, Beijing, April 8, 2014.

Security personnel stand guard outside as Chinese human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi stands trial at a court in Haidian District, Beijing, April 8, 2014.

Two Chinese anti-corruption activists accused of "disturbing public order" went on trial Tuesday in Beijing amid heavy security.

Ding Jiaxi and Li Wei are part of the New Citizens' Movement, a campaign encouraging Chinese officials to publicly disclose their assets.

The Communist Party is in the midst of its own campaign to weed out corruption within its ranks, but views the grassroots movement as a threat.

The group's founder, Xu Zhiyong, was sentenced in January to four years in prison. Ding and Li face up to five years in jail for "gathering a crowd to disturb public order."

Ding's lawyer, Sui Muqing, said a guilty verdict is all but certain, though he denies the defendants committed any crime.

"They didn't cause any harm to society, as has been said. Moreover, their behavior should be praised and encouraged. It's extremely easy to judge - it doesn't require much expert legal knowledge: They are very clearly innocent. They're not just innocent, there isn't even a trace of illegality," said Sui.

Highlighting the sensitivity of the case, police barred a group of foreign diplomats and blocked journalists from the courthouse as the proceedings began Tuesday.

Qui Yueying was among a group of New Citizens' Movement supporters gathered outside the courthouse in Beijing's Haidian district.

"I think they are totally innocent. We have fought together in the past. Honestly, we think that this movement is a movement for all the people. It's something that the public all long for," said Qui.

The activists' lawyers expect the trial to last around two days.
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