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December 8, 2009

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Black mark for Pudong officials

TWO senior officials in Shanghai's Pudong New Area have been disciplined for issuing an incorrect report over entrapment tactics used in a campaign against illegal cabs.

Pudong Vice Director Lu Yuexing and urban management department Director Wu Fukang received warnings by the Shanghai Bureau of Supervision.

The term warning means they will be ineligible for promotion for six months.

The bureau's decision had been approved by the city government, according to a public report released yesterday.

"As major leaders, Lu and Wu blindly believed the grassroots law-enforcement team's report," the public report said.

Lu and Wu, without making further inquiries, released an inquiry result based on wrong information provided by the law-enforcement officers, who have since been charged with misconduct over entrapment. "The released report distorted the truth and misled the public, which damaged the government's image," the bureau said.

Administrative penalties are divided into six levels of gravity - warning, recording a demerit, recording a gross demerit, demotion, dismissal from the post and the sack - under Chinese Regulations on the Punishment of Civil Servants.

Sun Zhongjie, a 19-year-old driver employed by the Shanghai Pangyuan Construction Machinery Engineering Co Ltd, cut off part of a finger in a frenzied attempt to prove his innocence after he was accused by traffic law-enforcement officers of operating a black cab on October 14.

His case, which attracted national media attention, is the latest in a string of allegations that some traffic-enforcement teams engaged in a crackdown on black cabs may be paying bounty hunters to set up innocent people on false charges.

City government officials called on the Pudong government to get the bottom to the case on October 18.

The Pudong government released a report that cleared transport supervisors of any wrongdoing on October 20.

An independent team consisting of lawmakers, lawyers and media representatives to investigate the case was set up the next day.

Pudong government officials admitted on October 26 that traffic authorities used entrapment to charge a company driver with operating an illegal cab and it apologized to the public for "investigative misconduct."

Similar claims were raised by other drivers who claim local traffic officials, amid a two-year swoop that has generated millions of yuan in fines, used the bounty hunters to provide false evidence.


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