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December 5, 2009

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Officials sent to prison in sperm bank scandal

THREE officials and two workers at the only sperm bank in southwestern China have been jailed for their involvement in the country's first known illegal sale of semen.

Semen samples were sold to unlicensed medical facilities, increasing the chances of inbreeding, Chongqing Economic Times reported yesterday.

Liu Hong, vice principal of Chongqing Municipality Family Planning Institute, which administers Chongqing Sperm Bank, was jailed for 12 years. The sperm bank's dean, Zhou Xing, was sentenced to five and a half years and Zhou Limin, vice dean, got 11 1/2 years. Workers Tong Yuexian and Li Yan got seven and eight years respectively.

All defendants have appealed.

The 2 million yuan (US$292,958) semen sale case was exposed earlier this year during a corruption investigation into the family planning institute, the report said.

1,000 samples

It soon led to Zhou Limin, who had been in charge of semen donation recruitment and selection as well as distribution and transportation.

He told prosecutors that he and the workers sold more than 1,000 samples to a salesman, making a total profit of 440,000 yuan.

The sperm bank was launched in November 2001. From September 2002, its superior institute consigned Wu Rongcheng, who is being tried separately, to transport and sell semen samples for the bank.

Normally, Wu got samples from the sperm bank after it was approved by Liu or Zhou Xing, and the workers would record the number of the samples he took. Wu then sold the samples to licensed medical facilities for 200 yuan per sample and kept 50 yuan from each sale after sending the rest to the institute.

In June 2003, the sperm bank was banned from providing semen samples by the Ministry of Public Health due to its poor management. It was completely shut in November that year, the report said.


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