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July 25, 2011

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7 on trial over deadly inferno

SEVEN people stood trial at a local court yesterday, charged with direct responsibility for the Jiaozhou Road inferno last November that engulfed a residential high-rise and claimed 58 lives.

Welders Wu Guolue and Wang Yongliang, who worked at the scene, were charged with major liability for serious accidents.

Stray sparks from their welding tools are believed to have started the blaze at the building that was being clad with insulating materials, which were flammable.

Wu's welding license had expired when the accident occurred, while Wang was found to have never received the required training.

It was the improper practices of the two unlicensed welders that resulted in such serious consequences, prosecutors said at the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court.

The two pled guilty yesterday. Wu admitted that he did not adopt prevention measures while working near flammable materials and claimed that he did not know the insulating cladding was flammable.

The other five defendants, Lao Weixing, Zhi Shangbang, Shen Jianfeng, Shen Jianxin and Ma Dongqi, are accused of bribery and major liability.

Lao, the owner of the Shanghai Dimu Property Management Co, subcontracted the scaffolding part of the renovation project to Zhi and Shen Jianfeng, after he got the contract from the Shanghai Jiayi Building Decoration Engineering Co.

Zhi and Shen Jianfeng then subcontracted the scaffolding part to unlicensed Shen Jianxin.

Jiayi, a subsidiary of the Jing'an Construction Co which was also the general contractor for the renovation, took the project illegally, as it was not qualified for such renovation work.

And it was Jiayi that divided the project into seven parts and offered it to subcontractors.

According to prosecutors, one project had several subcontractors, none of whom were qualified.

Zhi and Shen Jianfeng were also said to have offered Jiayi's deputy general manager bribes of 40,000 yuan (US$6,204) and 10,000 yuan respectively, as Jiayi had subcontracted them several projects, including Jiaozhou Road.

No verdict was announced yesterday.

A total of 26 people facing criminal charges over the blaze went on trial last week.

Some 28 officials and company workers, including Vice Mayor Shen Jun and Jing'an District director Zhang Renliang, received Party or administrative penalties, according to the State Council.


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