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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
China abortion activist on trial
Undated photo of Chen Guangcheng
Mr Chen, who is blind, is charged with public order offences
The trial of a Chinese activist who raised concerns about forced abortion and sterilisation has taken place.

Chen Guangcheng, under house arrest since September 2005, is charged with public order offences. It is not clear when a verdict will be announced.

He had accused officials in Shandong of breaking family planning laws in their enforcement of the one-child policy.

Before the trial, three lawyers connected to his case were arrested, but two have now been released.

One of them, Li Fangping, told the BBC that Mr Chen had been represented, against his will, by two state-appointed lawyers in the closed-door proceedings.

His wife told the news agency AFP she had not been allowed to attend the trial, which according to reports lasted about two hours.

The rights group Amnesty International said Mr Chen's rights were being denied and he was not getting a fair trial.

"It is Chen Guangcheng's fundamental right to have the lawyers of his choice and to have family members attend his trial," said Corinna-Barbara Francis from Amnesty International.

"Their attitude epitomises the general pattern of obstruction towards human rights lawyers in China."

Illegal

Hundreds of police surrounded the courthouse and blocked Mr Chen's supporters from attending, reports said.

Mr Chen faced charges of "wilfully harming public property" and "gathering masses to disturb traffic order", which relate to protests that took place after he was detained.

Map of China

He had accused local health workers in Linyi city of forcing people to have late-term abortions or sterilisations in order to enforce the one-child policy.

His allegations were covered in the international media, including an article in Time Magazine which claimed some 7,000 people had been sterilised against their will in Shandong.

In 2006, the magazine named Mr Chen as one of the world's 100 most influential people for exposing the problem.

Several workers were later arrested or sacked over the claims, state media reported, acknowledging "successive complaints" about illegal practices in Linyi.

China brought in its one-child policy 25 years ago, in a drive to curb population growth, but forced sterilisation and abortion are illegal.




SEE ALSO
China vow on sex-based abortion
02 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Scuffles at China activist trial
20 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
China 'acts on forced abortions'
20 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's population passes 1.3bn
06 Jan 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China acts to protect baby girls
15 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
China fears bachelor future
05 Apr 04 |  Asia-Pacific
China steps up 'one child' policy
25 Sep 00 |  Asia-Pacific

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