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CCTV blaze aftermath: 12 arrested

TWELVE people have been arrested over the massive February 9 fire at the new headquarters of China Central Television in Beijing.

Prosecutors have charged four CCTV employees and eight people from a Hunan Province fireworks company with the negligent use of dangerous articles. Prosecutors approved the arrest last Monday, according to The Beijing News today.

Among those charged are Xu Wei, the director of the new CCTV building construction office and Sha Peng, a CCTV employee and chairman of Beijing Supernova Media Development Co which recruited a firm to set off the fireworks.

The maximum penalty is seven years in jail.

Another five people, detained on February 19 for allegedly transporting a large amount of banned fireworks into Beijing illegally, were not in the arrest list. They were drivers and guides who helped bypass highway police checkpoints and another middleman who had to find a fireworks company.

The fire engulfed a 30-story building that was to house the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel, one of the buildings in the new state television network complex.

One fireman died and seven people, including six firemen and a construction worker, were injured in the blaze.

CCTV hired a company to ignite several hundred grade-A fireworks outside the hotel that night to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival, which marks the end of Lunar New Year celebrations.

Fireworks were allowed in downtown Beijing until midnight during the Spring Festival but the powerful grade-A fireworks could not be used without police approval.

CCTV failed to get a police permit and ignored officers who told them to cancel the show.


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