Six top rights lawyers defending three anti-corruption activists on trial for subversion in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi said they were prevented from finishing their arguments by court officials during Tuesday's hearing.
The trial of Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, and Li Sihua, who were held after calling for officials to disclose their assets, resumed on Tuesday at the Yushui District People's Court in Jiangxi's Xinyu city after it was suspended amid a dispute over rights violations.
"The afternoon session ended after about one hour," Yang Xuelin, who represents Liu Ping, told RFA.
"There were differences of opinion between the defendants and the court over procedural matters, and no consensus was reached," he said.
"The court decided that the defendants were getting over-excited, and adjourned. The trial will continue tomorrow," he said.
He said the charges against the three activists were "ridiculous."
Liu Ping 'frail'
Liu Ping's daughter Liao Min said her mother appeared in reasonably good spirits, but looked "very frail" in court.
"She seems to have aged a great deal," Liao said. "I thought Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua also looked like they'd aged 10 years."
"They didn't seem very strong in their attitude, although they insisted that they are innocent, and that the charges [are a form of] political oppression," she said.
Liao said officials had filmed the proceedings. "This must be to show the higher-level authorities," she said.
Authorities are holding 12 defense witnesses under house arrest, preventing them from attending the trial, witnesses and relatives said on Monday.
Liu, Wei and Li were detained in April on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," and later additionally charged with "unlawful assembly."
Liu and Wei have also been charged with "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order" and "using a cult to pervert the course of justice," after all three activists held up signs in the street to demand that high-ranking officials disclose their assets.
Lawyers for the activists said they had already been detained longer than the three months allowed under China's criminal procedural law and called at last month's trial for the presiding judges to be taken off the case.
A laid-off worker who gained the backing of more than 30 people for her nomination in district-level legislative elections in 2012, Liu Ping is no stranger to official harassment.
In March 2012, she was held for several weeks in an unofficial detention center, or "black jail," strip-searched, and beaten, rights groups reported at the time.
Before her candidacy for the district People's Congress in Xinyu city was rejected, Liu had mustered a strong following among laid-off and retired workers, as well as existing workers who complained of poor conditions in their jobs.
The number of people held in China for state-security offenses rose by nearly 20 percent last year, with the majority of arrests made in areas of recurrent ethnic unrest, a U.S.-based rights group said in a report last week.
China arrested 1,105 people for crimes that come under the category of "endangering state security" in 2012, a rise of 19 percent compared with 2011, the Dui Hua Foundation said in a recent report, citing official figures.
State security offenses include "incitement to subvert state power," a charge typically used to jail political dissidents, including imprisoned 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin Service and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.