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China jails corrupt cops for mine dam collapse role

by Reuters
Friday, 14 May 2010 01:11 GMT

BEIJING, May 14 (Reuters) - A Chinese court sentenced two policemen to up to five years in jail for taking bribes from the owner of an iron mine where an accident killed 277 people, Xinhua news agency said.

A mine dam collapse triggered a landslide of sludge that buried a village in Xiangfen county, Shanxi province, on Sept. 8, 2008.

Former county police head Han Chunxi, 39, was sentenced to five years in prison for taking 40,000 yuan ($5,859) in bribes from the mine owner.

In return he ordered his subordinates to stop inspections of the mine and abetted the use of mining explosives, the Fangshan District People's Court in Beijing found.

A subordinate, Cheng Xiangmin, 37, was sentanced to three years in jail for dereliction of duty, Xinhua said.

Five weeks before the Xiangfen disaster, on Aug. 1, 2008, a similar dam collapse in Loufan county killed at least 43 villagers.

Thirteen low level officials were jailed in December for covering up that collapse, which came just a week before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing -- an event that China did not want to mar with negative news. [ID:nPEK211458]

China's rush for commodities to fuel its growing economy in the past few years has resulted in a rash of deadly mine accidents caused by poor safety standards and supervision.

($1=6.827 Yuan) (Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Ken Wills)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.