China activist lawyer Xu Zhiyong on trial


A prominent human rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong who protested against corruption has gone on trial in China on charges of “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”.
He is one of several activists from a transparency movement to be tried this week.
Rights groups have criticised President Xi Jinping – who pledged to fight corruption – over their trials.
They come as a report says many members of China’s elite have set up offshore companies in overseas tax havens.
The trial of Xu Zhiyong, who was arrested in July 2013, began on Wednesday in Beijing.
There was tight security outside the court, with police blocking journalists from approaching or filming outside.
Mr Xu’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, told the reporters that Mr Xu and his lawyers both viewed the court proceedings as illegal, and stayed silent during the trial in protest.
Earlier, Mr Zhang told reporters that a fair trial looked “unlikely”. He said that he had not been given the opportunity to defend Mr Xu in a fair court.
“Last week I applied for five witnesses to come and testify, but not only did the court reject my application, but also the police have been restricting these witnesses in the last two days,” he said.