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Torture probe delays extortion trial

The court postpones the trial to an undefined date so an inquiry can be held into accusations of torture, his wife accuses.

world Updated: Jun 09, 2007 11:11 IST

A top Chinese environmentalist's extortion trial has been delayed for investigations into claims he was tortured by police, his wife said on Saturday.



Wu Lihong, 39, was due to go on trial on Tuesday, but the court "decided to postpone the trial to an undefined date so an inquiry can be held into accusations of torture," his wife said.



Xu Jiehua accused authorities last week of assaulting her husband, who was arrested in April after campaigning for years against the pollution of China's scenic Taihu lake -- now at the centre of a clean-water crisis. "My husband has been tortured... the police whipped him on his back, arms, legs and feet," she said then, adding his lawyer had seen bruises on Wu during a jail visit.



Wu's trial was scheduled to take place in Yixing on the shores of Taihu, China's third largest freshwater lake, in the eastern province of Jiangsu.



Authorities this week ordered heavily polluting industries around the lake to close after drinking water for millions of people was contaminated by a huge blue-green algae bloom.



Contaminated tap water, which one resident said, "smells so bad that you want to vomit", sparked panic-buying of bottled water among the seven million people who rely on the lake's supplies.