Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 12:56 UK

China quake activist put on trial

A pupil at a temporary classroom in Beichuan, May 2009
Children were still in temporary classrooms a year after the Sichuan quake

A Chinese activist who investigated why so many schools collapsed during last year's massive earthquake in Sichuan has been put on trial.

Tan Zuoren was charged with "inciting subversion of state power" during a trial which lasted only a few hours. No verdict has yet been given.

Rights groups claim the trial is linked to his plan to release a report into the collapse of schools in the quake.

The disaster left 88,000 people dead or missing and five million homeless.

Mr Tan's lawyers said the trial, in the city of Chengdu, was "terrible" and some of their witnesses had not been allowed to testify.

Analysts say a verdict is expected within days, and Mr Tan could face years in jail.

Detailed database

A group of wellwishers who had wanted to support Mr Tan at the trial say they were detained in a hotel so they could not get to the courthouse.


The group included artist Ai Weiwei, who worked as a consultant on the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium.

Several thousand school buildings collapsed during the earthquake, fuelling angry allegations by parents that corruption had led to shoddy construction standards.

In many of the affected towns, schools collapsed but other nearby buildings withstood the earthquake.

Government officials promised an investigation while, at the same time, pressurising parents to keep their grief - and their anger - to themselves.

Tan Zuoren had asked internet users and people who lost their children in the quake to help to compile a detailed database of the victims.

He also asked volunteers to detail any evidence of poor construction at the schools.

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