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Stern Hu trial goes behind closed doors
By China correspondent Stephen McDonell


Shut out: the part of the trial relating to the commercial secrets charges is a closed session (AFP: Frederic Brown)
The trial of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu has now been shut to Australian officials as it enters its second phase in Shanghai.

Hu and three of his colleagues are facing bribery charges as well as charges of commercial espionage.

Yesterday, Hu and two of his colleagues admitted to some part of the bribery allegations.

The Australian consul-general to Shanghai, Tom Connor, says the second half of the trial will deal with allegations the team offered inducements to Chinese steel companies in return for commercial information.

"At the end of [this morning's] proceedings, the court declared that was the end of the proceedings related to the bribery charges," Mr Connor said.

"The session that would open this afternoon would be related to the commercial secrets charges, which would be a closed session of the court."

Mr Connor told reporters the defendants had been given an opportunity to personally respond to the charges during the morning session, but Hu made no comment.

"After that, the lawyers for the defendants were then given an opportunity to make their points in rebuttal in terms of the facts as they were put by the prosecution," Mr Connor said.

There is confusion surrounding the bribery confessions and it has yet to be clarified what the defendants are admitting, how much was received and what it was for.

Hu has been accused of receiving bribes in two amounts which add up to more than $1 million.

His colleague Ge Mingqiang is said to have taken a similar amount and Liu Caikui about half as much.

But the allegation against Wang Yong is that he took 10 times the amount Hu allegedly did, receiving bribes worth more than $10 million.

The confessions make it almost certain the men will receive some form of jail term.

Prison term likely for Stern Hu
Stephen McDonell, Shanghai

Australian Stern Hu looks certain to receive some form of jail term after admitting to part of the bribery allegations against him.

Day two of the trial of Stern Hu and his three Chinese colleagues will again start with an examination of bribery allegations.

But from the comments of Australia's consul-general in Shanghai, Tom Connor, it seems that the former head of Rio Tinto's Shanghai iron ore team has already admitted to some form of guilt.

"Mr Stern Hu was accused of receiving two amounts - two bribes: one amounting to 1 million RMB ($US146,000) and another one relating to US$790,000," he said.

"During the course of the trial Mr Hu made some admissions concerning those two bribery amounts. So he did acknowledge the truth of some of those bribery amounts".

Later the trial will switch to the "offering inducements for sensitive information" part.

It will then become completely secret.

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