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City prosecutors join probe into building's fatal tumble

SHANGHAI prosecutors have entered the investigation into Saturday's fatal building collapse in Minhang District, according to yesterday's Prosecutorial Daily, the official newspaper of the state prosecutors office.

City prosecutors visited the site of the building collapse in Meilong Town shortly after the 13-story apartment house toppled onto its side early Saturday morning, the newspaper said.

Investigators are working to determine why the nearly completed building in the Lotus Riverside project fell, killing a worker who was inside at the time.

Investigators will also be looking into media reports that several Meilong Town officials were major shareholders in the Lotus Riverside developer, Meidu Real Estate Co.

At least one had been suspected of wrongdoing in the past.

Minhang District prosecutor records show that Que Jingde, an assistant to the director of Meilong Town and the second biggest shareholder in Meidu, was accused of dereliction of duty in 2002 in a case involving 13.27 million yuan (US$1.9 million). He was director of the town's land acquisition office at the time.

The details of the case were not revealed, and the report said the money was eventually recovered. The 51-year-old Que was not punished and even received a performance award the following year.

In 2001, Que and other 23 people, including several officials of Meilong Town government, paid 16 million yuan to buy Meidu during its transformation from a state-owned company to a privately owned firm. Meidu used to be owned by town government. Que owns 15 percent of the company with an investment of 1.2 million yuan.

Que was put in charge of the demolition and resettlement work in Meilong Town in 2007. He is also in charge of the construction of a section of the Shanghai-Hangzhou magnetic-levitation train line in Meilong.

Nine people from the developer, construction contractor, the project's engineering supervisor and other parties to the apartment complex have been put "under control," according to the Minhang District government, which did not elaborate. It was not clear whether Que was among those targeted.

The term is used to indicate that people suspected of being responsible for major accidents have been placed under government supervision.


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