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Five on trial over deadly high-rise blaze

FIVE people stood on trial today for allegedly being responsible for the Jiaozhou Road inferno last November that engulfed a high-rise residential building and claimed 58 lives.

Gao Weizhong, former director of Jing'an District Construction and the Transport Committee, Yao Yaming, former deputy director of the committee and their two subordinates were charged with abuse of power and taking bribes, prosecutors said.

Feng Wei, manager of the Jinshan Tianyi Construction Material Department, also stood on trial at the Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court for bribery and being responsible for the deadly blaze.

The five defendants today are among 28 officials and company workers who received Party or administrative penalties for their responsibility in the November 15 inferno. Most punished officials were from Jing'an District or working in construction departments.

Caused by unlicensed welders and illegal subcontracting, the inferno brought economic losses of 158 million yuan (US$24.4 million) to the city, according to an investigation report by the State Council.

The report also said 26 people, including some district officials, face criminal charges, mainly alleging dereliction of duty or corruption.

Mayor Han Zheng has admitted his own liability to the State Council, the report said.


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