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China 16 August 2006

Ching Cheong’s trial is "travesty of justice"


Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage at yesterday’s trial in Beijing of Ching Cheong, the Hong Kong-based correspondent of the Singaporean Straits Times daily, calling it a "travesty of justice" that showed the authorities had no evidence for the spying charge against him.

"We will continue to campaign on behalf of Ching and we will not accept a guilty verdict," the press freedom organisation said. "The only possible outcome is Ching’s release. What credible judicial system would dare to try someone for ’spying,’ a crime punishable by death, in just a few hours and with defence rights flouted from start to end? This is an insult to the very idea of justice."

Ching’s trial was held behind closed doors yesterday at Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court. The hearing lasted just a few hours. So far, no information has emerged about what transpired.

Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes the Straits Times, said in a statement: "We are happy that Ching Cheong’s trial is finally over after a year of detention. We hope for the best possible outcome."

Ching was accused of spying after being arrested in April 2005 in Guangzhou. The Chinese foreign ministry claimed on 31 May 2005 that he was a spy in the pay of foreign agencies. His newspaper said it was shocked by the allegation. His wife, Mary Lau, said a go-between set a trap for him when he tried to obtain recordings of secret interviews with former reformist Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang.

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