XISHUI, Guizhou, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Seven people, including four government officials, a legislator, a teacher and a taxi driver, stood trial on child rape charges at a court in southwest China's Guizhou Province Wednesday.
The closed-door trial started at 8:30 a.m. at the People's Court of Xishui County. It adjourned in the afternoon and will continue on Thursday.
The time to announce the verdict had not been decided yet, saidan official of the court.
"Because the case involves the underage, so we decided not to give an open trial," court president Yu Deping said.
"It's a case with a very bad impact on society and we'll strictly abide by laws to handle it," he said.
The accused are official Li Shoumin in charge of the county migration office; land and resources official Chen Mengran; social security official Huang Yongliang; legal affairs official Chen Cun; legislator Mu Mingzhong; vocational school teacher Feng Zhiyang; and taxi driver Feng Yong.
Li was removed from his post before the trial, and Mu, also a manager of a local real estate company, was suspended from his qualification as a legislator, said Li Ling, secretary of the Xishui County Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
"The other government officials will also face other severe punishments after the trial is over," he said.
The suspects are accused of raping teenage girls, all primary and secondary school students in Xishui County, abetted by Yuan Li,a 37-year-old jobless woman and two of her friends from October 2007 to July 2008, said Yuan Yunqin, secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the CPC Xishui County Committee.
Local police started an investigation into the case on Aug. 15 last year when a victim's mother reported to them that her daughter had been raped, Yuan said.
"Police broke up the case at the end of last October and arrested seven suspects later," he said.
He said the female Yuan knew many "influential people" in town because she used to be a prostitute and run an inn in the county seat.
"She offered her own apartment as a hospitality venue, helped find clients and took 30 percent of the income -- roughly 100 yuan(14 U.S. dollars) per person."
The remaining 70 percent went to her friends, a 14-year-old school dropout surnamed Liu and Liu's boyfriend, 15-year-old Yuan.
He said the two teenagers, who were drug addicts and needed money, abducted schoolgirls from one primary school and three junior high schools in the county.
The female Yuan was arrested after the scandal was uncovered in August, but prosecutors did not have enough evidence to charge her with kidnapping or coerced prostitution.
It is not known when she will be tried.
The two teenagers who actually forced the girls into prostitution are underage and have been put in a local juvenile detention center, the county chief prosecutor Ren Bingqiang has said.
According to China's criminal law, the jail term for rapists is from three to 10 years, but child rapists can be sentenced to life, or even death, if they know the victim is under 14.