BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-one people implicated in a deadly fire that gutted a tower building in the new China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters last year went on trial in Beijing Tuesday.
But the first-instance court hearing held in the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court Tuesday morning was closed to media.
Reporters in the crowd outside the courthouse questioned the legality of the closed-door hearing of the high-profile case as Chinese law states that trials should be open to the public except for cases involving national security, individual privacy, minors or other specific cases.
The No. 2 branch of Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate confirmed that all of the defendants, including Xu Wei, former head of the broadcaster's construction office, were charged with causing an accident with dangerous goods, and other crimes.
A Xinhua reporter found Gao Zicheng, Xu Wei's lawyer, around noon, after the morning court session ended and families and lawyers of the 21 left the court.
But Gao did not disclose any details, except the start time of the afternoon court session.
An illegal fireworks display started the blaze in the 30-story building in Beijing's Central Business District on Feb. 9, 2009. One firemen died and six firemen and two construction workers were injured. The cost of the fire was estimated at more than 160 million yuan (23.44 million U.S. dollars).
In February this year, a statement from the State Council said an investigation found 71 people responsible for the fire. Forty-four of them would face criminal charges while 27 others would receive Party and administrative penalties.