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February 10, 2010

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Ex-officer faces trial over mine calamity

A FORMER police officer who was in charge of overseeing a mine, where an accident killed 277 people in 2008 in north China's Shanxi Province, stood trial yesterday for dereliction of duty.

The trial of Cheng Xiangmin, the former officer of Xiangfen County in Linfen City, was held at the Fangshan District People's Court in Beijing. No verdict has been reached.

An unlicensed iron ore dump operated by the Xinta Mining Co collapsed on September 8, 2008, in Xiangfen County and triggered a landslide, which devastated an outdoor market, a village and an office building.

In January 2008, Cheng, who was in charge of maintaining order in the mine, halted inspections of the mine as ordered by his superior Han Chunxi, according to a statement from the procuratorate.

The company's illegal exploration led to the tragedy.

The company, which illicitly used explosives, destroyed iron reserves worth more than 100 million yuan (US$14.65 million), according to the Shanxi Province Department of Land and Resources.

Han, former police chief of Xiangfen County admitted taking bribes of 40,000 yuan from the mine owner, Zhang Peiliang, in 2006 and 2007 in court earlier this month.


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