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Former construction head gets 16 years for Jiaozhou Road inferno

A local court today sentenced the former head of a district construction authority to 16 years in jail for charges arising from last November's Jiaozhou Road inferno which killed 58 people.

Gao Weizhong, former director of the Jing'an District Construciton and Transport Commission, was found guilty of abusing his power and taking bribes in a multi-million yuan renovation project at the fated building, according a verdict handed down by the Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court.

The court also found that unqualified workers employed under the corruptly awarded renovation contract directly caused the fire.

And 25 others, including district government officials, construction workers and managers of construction companies held responsible for causing the fire also received their verdicts today in the same court.

During a previous hearing, Gao admitted that he had abused his position of power and accepted about 120,000 yuan (US$18,553) in bribes.

Prosecutors said he approved renovation to the building although it had not been included in energy-saving projects provided for in the Jing'an District government budget for 2010.

He allegedly proposed that Jing'an Construction Co should win the bid for the construction work and that it should subcontract the project to the Shanghai Jiayi Building and Decoration Engineering Co, which, prosecutors said, was not qualified to carry out the 30 million yuan project.

In his defense, Gao told the court that the renovation project had been proposed by residents living in the building.

According to an official investigation, the fire was caused by two unlicensed welders, and it also revealed that the subcontracting was illegal.


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