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18 due in court for role in mine-waste disaster

TWO courts in Shanxi Province will soon begin the trial of 18 officials for their role in a fatal landslide that killed at least 277 people last year, the provincial prosecutor said yesterday.

The Linfen municipal prosecutor and the Xiangfen county prosecutor respectively transferred the investigation files of the suspects to the corresponding courts on April 20, applying for court hearings over charges of dereliction of duty, taking bribes and misuse of power.

The suspects include Sang Haiming, former deputy director of the provincial administration of land and resources; Wang Youshun, former head of the Linfen municipal work safety supervision administration; deputy head of Xiangfen County; and other officials with the municipal, county and village-level authorities.

The Linfen Intermediate People's Court and the Xiangfen county court are studying the cases and will announce the date of the court hearings soon.

The collapse of an unlicensed iron ore dreg-retaining pond triggered a massive landslide on September 8 in Xiangfen County, Linfen City in coal-rich Shanxi. The torrent of mud and mining waste buried an outdoor market near a village of more than 1,000 residents. At least 277 people were killed and four still remain missing.

The dumping pond was built in violation of a regulation and had undergone almost no safety inspections.

China has meted out punishment to 113 people held responsible for the accident. Among the total, 51 were transferred to judicial organs for criminal charges and 62 received disciplinary penalties.

The judicial authorities said they would deal with the rest of the officials separately from the 18 due to come to court soon, as cases require individual investigations.


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