The trial began on Wednesday of 12 people charged in connection with the forced labor scandal at brick kilns in north China's Shanxi Province.
Those on trial at the Intermediate People's Court of Linfen City included kiln boss Wang Bingbing, foreman Heng Tinghan, and employees Zhao Yanbing, Heng Mingyang, and Zhao Fengdi.
The People's Procuratorate of Linfen City said the charges included illegal detention, forced labor, and murder.
"As many people are involved in the case, I am afraid the result won't come out on Wednesday," said a man surnamed Hu with the research office of the court.
The use of slave workers hit the headlines after more than 400 parents in Henan Province posted a call-for-help letter on the Internet last month, saying their missing children had been sold to small brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan as slave workers.
In Shanxi, 32 people from 12 regions across China were enticed or kidnapped and trucked to work as slaves in a brick kiln in Caosheng Village in Guangshengsi Township, Hongtong.
The kiln was located in the courtyard of Wang Dongji, secretary of Caosheng Village branch of Communist Party of China. The kiln owner was his son, Wang Bingbing.
The laborers were forced to work long hours on poor food, dogs were used to prevent them from escaping, and many received burns and other injuries working in the hot kiln.
One person died in November 2006 and his death is being investigated.
The forced labor scandal sparked a nationwide outcry and the central government ordered an immediate investigation.
A total of 359 people, including 12 children, had been rescued from illegal brick kilns in Shanxi and police had arrested 38 people by June 22. Police in Henan Province rescued 217 people, including 29 children, and arrested 120 people in a four-day crackdown involving more than 35,000 police checking 7,500 kilns.
(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2007)