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Dark Side Last Updated: May 3rd, 2007 - 08:59:13

7 Tried in Reporter's Death
By AP 30/4/07
May 3, 2007, 08:58

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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 Sunday 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.

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.

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 Hou, who is among those on trial, organized a group of people to assault Lan and Chang at the mine.

Unconfirmed reports said Lan may have been trying to collect money from Hou in return for not writing about his business.

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

The case laid bare the widespread practice of Chinese reporters cutting deals to write positive stories or suppress negative news in return for bribes or promises to buy advertising in their publications.

While the government condemns such practices, journalists and academics say they are often driven by official policies that exert tight political control on content while forcing publications to struggle for revenue.

Source:Ocnus.net 2007

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