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Rio Tinto suspects meet lawyers
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Six days after their arrest, two Shanghai-based employees of scandal-ridden mining company Rio Tinto were allowed to meet their lawyers for the first time.

"After the meeting, I have a lot more information about the case and the investigations now, but I can't say anything more at the moment," said Tao Wuping, a lawyer representing employee Liu Caikui.

Tao is known nationwide for defending Shanghai's former richest man, Zhou Zhengyi, against charges of economic crimes from 2003 to 2007.

Liu and three other suspects at Rio Tinto, the world's second largest mining firm, were arrested by Chinese police for allegedly bribing their way into a winning stake in the Sino-Australian iron ore price talks.

The four were accused of stealing trade secrets and being involved in bribery. They potentially face years in jail.

Lawyer Zhang Peihong said he met another of the charged employees, Wang Yong, in the afternoon.

"I just got to know about Wang's condition in the detention center," he said. "But I was not allowed to ask anything about the case."

Lawyer Zhai Jian, who will provide service to Ge Minqiang, the third Chinese national involved in the case, told China Daily he is scheduled to meet his client this afternoon. Zhai gained national fame when he defended Yang Jia, a Beijing resident who stabbed six police officers to death last July.

Stern Hu, an Australian national and a Rio Tinto executive in its Shanghai office who is also charged in the scandal, will probably meet an assistant of his lawyer today, according to Tao.

Hu is likely to be represented by Shanghai-based Duan & Duan Law Firm, Oriental Morning Post reported.

In another development, officials at the Shandong-based Laigang Group yesterday admitted one of its senior executives in charge of import negotiations, Wang Hongjiu, was investigated last month for involvement in the scandal, the Securities Daily reported.

Tan Yixin, a senior executive of the Beijing-based steel maker Shougang Group, was reportedly detained for alleged "commercial crimes" concerning the case, local media reported.

(China Daily August 18, 2009)

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