Australia 'regrets' Rio trial lock-out, no verdict for days | world | Hindustan Times
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Australia 'regrets' Rio trial lock-out, no verdict for days

Australia on Wednesday chastised China for locking its diplomats out of the high-profile Rio Tinto trial and said it was not expecting a verdict for days.

world Updated: Mar 24, 2010 10:21 IST

Australia on Wednesday chastised China for locking its diplomats out of the high-profile Rio Tinto trial and said it was not expecting a verdict for days.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said a decision on Australian national Stern Hu and three Chinese colleagues, who are facing bribery and industrial spying charges, would take "some time" after the hearing wraps up later in the day.

"We expect that the trial hearing itself will complete today," Smith told public broadcaster ABC.

"We are also expecting, in the normal course of events, that the court will adjourn to consider its verdict and to consider sentencing if that's required.

"There may well be some time, a matter of days, between the end of the hearing today and those further processes."

Smith said Australian officials regretted the court's decision to refuse them access to the trial's commercial espionage section, which started on Tuesday.

"We regret that and have made that point clear to Chinese officials."

Relations between Australia and China, its top trading partner, plunged after Hu's arrest last July but have recovered since the charges were eased from spying and stealing state secrets.

The trial is being closely watched by the business community. The four were arrested shortly after the collapse of tense iron-ore contract talks, and just weeks after Rio snubbed a major investment by state-run Chinalco.

The four have admitted some of the bribery accusations, according to Australian officials.