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Court upholds 11-year jail sentence for policeman over nightclub fire

A Chinese court has upheld an 11-year jail term for a senior police officer in southern city of Shenzhen who was convicted of taking bribes and dereliction of duty in connection with a nightclub fire that claimed 44 lives last year.

Chen Xuming, former deputy director of the Public Security Bureau of Shenzhen's Longgang District, was found guilty of taking bribes of 60,000 yuan (US$8,823.5) from the "King of the Dancers" nightclub and turning a blind eye to lax safety measures, drug dealing and prostitution in the club, a spokesman with the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People's Court said today.

Back to Jan. 20, he was sentenced to 11 years in imprisonment by the People's Court of Yantian District in Shenzhen in the first instance, and he lodged an appeal later.

The Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People's Court upheld the sentence at the second instance "not long ago," the spokesman said. But he did not reveal when the verdict was made.

A fire broke out at about 10:49 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the "King of the Dancers" nightclub, when more than 300 people were watching a performance and fireworks ignited flammable material in the ceiling.

Forty-four people were killed and 64 others were injured during the accident. Direct economic losses stood at 271,245 yuan.

Six other people, mostly police officers also in connection with the deadly fire, had received jail terms ranging from one to 13 years for taking bribes, dereliction of duty and bending the law for selfish ends, according to the sentences handed down by the People's Court of Longgang District on March 13.


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