- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

12:58 p.m.

BEIJING (AP) — Seven suspects have gone on trial in the beating death of a reporter at an illegal coal mine in northern China, state media reported today.

The death of reporter Lan Chengzhang in January was the highest-profile case of violence against journalists in recent years, prompting a highly unusual demand by Chinese President Hu Jintao for an investigation.

The trial started yesterday at the Intermediate People’s Court of Linfen in Shanxi province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Six of the suspects were charged with “intentionally causing physical harm” while a seventh faced charges of harboring the other suspects, it said.

Mr. Lan, a newly hired reporter for the Beijing-based China Trade News, was attacked along with a colleague when they went to interview Hou Zhenrun, the owner of the small unlicensed coal mine outside the northern city of Datong, on Jan. 10.

Mr. Lan died a day later from head injuries suffered in the attack. His colleague, Chang Hanwen, sustained a broken arm and other injuries.

Earlier state media reports said mine owner Mr. Hou, who is among those on trial, organized a group of people to assault Mr. Lan and Mr. Chang at the mine.

Telephones at the court in Linfen and at the China Trade News office in Beijing both rang unanswered today.

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